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Recovering after the birth

Having a baby changes your body.

After giving birth, it may take some time before your body looks and feels the way it did before you got pregnant. And it may never completely return to the way it was.

Physical activity and healthy eating help your body recover.

They also help:

  • your physical and mental wellbeing
  • weight loss - if you want to lose any weight you gained during pregnancy

Breastfeeding can help to reduce the size of your womb. When you breastfeed, your body produces a hormone called oxytocin. This makes your womb contract.

Postnatal check-up

You will have a check-up with your GP or obstetrician 6 weeks after the birth. This is called the postnatal check-up.

The aim of this check-up is to make sure you are:

  • recovering from giving birth
  • feeling well

Postnatal check-up

Your period returning

If you are breastfeeding, your period may not return for at least 6 months. Or you may not have a period until you stop breastfeeding.

If you breastfeed and bottle feed, your period usually returns within 2 months.

Talk to your doctor if you are worried about your periods.

Breastfeeding and periods

Physical activity after birth

Being active can help your mood and can help your body recover. Try to fit in a walk with your baby. Also, try to do any exercises the midwives or physiotherapists showed you.

Low-impact activity is recommended for the first 6 to 12 weeks after giving birth. This includes walking and postnatal floor exercises.

Contact a physiotherapist if you have any problems like leaking urine when you exercise.

Exercise after pregnancy

Exercise plan for the first 12 weeks after birth

Sex after birth

It is safe to have sex when:

  • vaginal bleeding has stopped
  • any wounds or tears you have from the birth have healed

You may not feel ready immediately. Having a newborn can leave you exhausted and affect your sex drive at first.

You could become pregnant again even if your periods have not returned. Talk to your doctor or midwife about contraception if you want to avoid getting pregnant.

Contraception -

Non-urgent advice: Talk to your GP, obstetrician or public health nurse if:

  • it hurts to have sex - they can give you advice or refer you to a specialist if the pain is severe or does not improve

Page last reviewed: 5 July 2023
Next review due: 5 July 2026