Postnatal recovery timeline

Postnatal recovery timeline

I just want to start by saying if you are about to birth your baby or are a new mum, you are an incredible warrior goddess don’t forget that!

Recovery after having your baby

Postnatal recovery will look different for everyone and can be a physically and mentally challenging time. Not only are you getting used to being a mum,  you also don’t feel like yourself in your body. Your hormones are on a rollercoaster and you’re probably not getting a lot of sleep, so remember to be kind to yourself. You have all the time in the world and you will feel unstoppable again. 

There are many things that play a role in your recovery and how long it may take. In this post you will find what affects it and how to support yourself for a smoother speedier recovery.

All women deserve to fully heal, have a functional pelvic floor, strong core and feel like themselves in their body. This time period is very short but can feel very long, if you’ve been there or are currently there you will know what I mean. 

What should you do in the first six weeks post baby?

For every woman, the main focus in the first six weeks is to rest, hydrate and nourish your body. You are getting to know your new baby, they are getting to know you and you need some time to emotionally process your birth whether it was what you’d hoped or the opposite of your plan.

You can start to connect with your pelvic floor with kegels and start breath work, these are the building blocks to get back to high-intensity and lifting workouts.

However, you birthed your baby you will have an open wound, roughly the size of a dinner plate, where your placenta was attached to your uterus. This wound is the reason for postpartum blood loss and a big reason why you need to rest, to allow it time to heal and reduce the risk of infection.

What affects your post birth recovery timeline?

So there are a few factors that affect the length of your recovery, these include your pregnancy, birth experience, genes and lifestyle.

How your birth type affects your recovery

postnatal recovery timeline

Vaginal birth with no complications

The fastest recovery post birth is usually an uncomplicated vaginal birth that required no assistance with no or minimal tearing. There is still a lot of healing and recovery for the body to do but without additional factors, it takes the least amount of time compared to the birth types below.

Planned caesarean

It may surprise you that a planned c-section comes before a vaginal birth, but with planned c-sections, everything is in place and as there are no immediate medical emergencies they tend to go a lot smoother and this then helps with a smoother recovery.

Vaginal birth with assisted delivery (instrumental/episiotomy)

If you had an assisted vaginal delivery, this includes forceps, ventouse or episiotomy or experienced a large tear, your body will need more time to recover. There will be many tissues and possibly muscles that need time to heal, as with a c-section too much too soon can affect scar sights increasing the risk of infection and lowing healing.

Unplanned caesarean 

An unplanned c-section happens because of a medical emergency, due to this nature, there may problems with infection, scar sight and underlying health conditions. 

Your birth expierence

Remember that your birth type was not down to you, you have no control over your birth or how you birth (unless you had a planned c-section!). Don’t blame yourself for anything there is nothing you could have done differently or better, you did amazing. 

Give yourself some space to emotionally process your birth if you haven’t already. This is just here to give you a better picture and expectations of how long your recovery may be and how birth affects that.


So how can you support your body?

You can’t control your genes, what happened during pregnancy (apart from working out if it was safe for you to do so) or your labour. 

BUT you can control your lifestyle, rest, what you eat and drink, lower your stress levels and exercise when the time is right.

Make your recovery as easy as it can be with support around you and talk as much as you can about how you are feeling and the help you need. If you are ready to start your postnatal exercise journey, I have put together a free guide for you on your first six exercises post-baby. You can get your copy here.  Enjoy your recovery, rest and build up your strength, it’s a journey and you’ve got this. 

Lucy is a pre & postnatal corrective exercise specialist and mum. She is on a mission to empower, educate and inspire women during pregnancy and motherhood to feel fit, healthy and body confident.

Your Free Guides

Join our weekly newsletter

Do you want to receive weekly fitness empowerment and inspiration to your inbox? Join our free newsletter!