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Pregnancy Health Center

Healing And Losing Weight

The length of time it will take for your body to heal after delivery is affected by your general health before and during pregnancy, the type of delivery, and any complications during delivery and the postpartum period. Generally, if you are in good health and had an uncomplicated delivery, it will take approximately six weeks to recover from childbirth.

Usually, recovery from a vaginal delivery is much more rapid than the recovery period from a cesarean. Many women will feel like they are back to their normal selves within a week or two of having a vaginal delivery, while women who have undergone a c-section generally take more time to recuperate. That is not to say that within a week women who have had a vaginal delivery can resume their regular routine. It will still take the body approximately six weeks to get back to its pre-pregnancy state.

Some general guidelines for postpartum activities are as follows:

Vaginal Deliveries:

  • 1 week: You can begin driving again.
  • 2 weeks: You can begin light exercise such as walking.
  • 6 weeks: Postpartum exam. After medical clearance, resumption of most activities including an exercise regimen, sexual intercourse, and work.


  • 2 weeks: You can begin driving again. Before you get behind the wheel, you should have stopped taking narcotic pain medicine (codeine, oxycodone, or Demerol) and you should be comfortable slamming on the brakes of your car without thinking about whether your incision will hurt. Test yourself in the driveway before you pull out to make sure.
  • 6 weeks: Postpartum exam. After medical clearance, resumption of most activities including an exercise regimen, sexual intercourse, and most other activities.

Losing Weight

You should aim to return to your pre-pregnancy weight by six months after delivery. Most women lose half of their weight by six weeks postpartum, and shed the rest over the next few months. A sensible diet and moderate exercise will help you shed the pounds. Other factors that can affect your weight-loss rate include: your daily caloric intake; the amount that you exercise; whether you are breast- or bottlefeeding; and your pre-pregnancy weight. Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories and helps you return to your pre-pregnancy weight faster. Weight loss is an issue that can cause a lot of anxiety for the postpartum woman. Occasionally, thyroid diseases may affect weight loss in a postpartum woman.

Crash or fad diets are not only ineffective--they may be potentially harmful. To lose those extra pounds you gained during pregnancy, dedicate yourself to sensible eating, a decreased caloric intake, and regular exercise. Long walks pushing your baby in a stroller or carrying him in a front pack or sling are great ways to help you shed pounds and get out for some fresh air.

Review Date: 12/9/2012
Reviewed By: Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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