Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without my pool. It’s an oasis in our yard that keeps us all cool while providing a solid activity on days we don’t have any plans.
I’m glad swimming in China was challenging to come by, for it would have been difficult for me to resist if it were so easy there. Between the overcrowded pools and the dirty water at the beaches, there was no way I was going for a swim in that country.
But no matter where you live if you’ve just had a baby, it’s important to know when you can swim and what’s safe to do. Here’s the lowdown on all of that!
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Best Time to Swim for New Mamas
Swimming is such a wonderful exercise. And you can certainly use it to get back in shape after having your baby.
You must wait 4 to 6 weeks postpartum, at minimum, before you go swimming. That’s generally when lochia has stopped (the blood that comes out after birth). Not that you’d want to be seen in a swimsuit with that coming out, and you can’t use tampons until after you visit your doctor for your postpartum checkup and get that all-clear.
So, no swimming.
Not until you have your postpartum checkup. If you’ve had a vaginal delivery, you will likely go in for that checkup at 4 weeks. For those of you that have had a c-section, it will be around 6 weeks.
For BOTH types of deliveries, you need your doctor to tell you your cervix has closed. And for c-section deliveries, the additional check you need is that your incision is healing properly.
Why can’t I go swimming postpartum?
I hate to sound like Captain No-Fun here, but you have a higher risk of getting an infection even if you feel awesome. Putting your body in water presents the opportunity for bacteria to get in.
As mentioned, your cervix isn’t closed yet. And then, for c-sections, there’s that incision. Some of you Mamas may have needed an episiotomy, which is another point of entry bacteria can take.
While I love swimming, I’d have to wait it out if I were postpartum right now. You can put your toes in the water on the pool’s edge, but I’d say other than that, keep out.
Infections like these aren’t little boo-boos either. They will land you in the hospital. And didn’t you just get out of there? I gave birth in China, and those hospitals are awful. I’m not sure if I’d be happier being in an American hospital.
Where is the best place to swim postpartum?
You can go swimming once your doctor has cleared you for swimming at that postpartum checkup. The safest place to do so is in a pool. A private pool like the one at your house is best, though a well-kept community pool should be fine. The chlorine should take care of any pathogens in the water.
I do not advise swimming in a lake or ocean. But if you like that sort of thing, make sure you ask your doctor about getting in fresh or salt water and if they think it is safe at that time. With their blessing, you can proceed.
How to Stay Safe Postpartum During Swimming
Again, waiting is the hardest part, I know. But it’s not all that long in the grand scheme of things. When you can swim again postpartum, these tips will help you keep safe.
- Go slow
Swimming is excellent exercise and can really help you get back in shape after having your baby (more about it here). While you don’t feel all those movements you’re making, it is easier to exercise in the water. Take it easy. Your body is still recovering from giving birth, and you can build back up to a solid routine by taking those steps to get there rather than overexerting yourself.
- Pay attention
Listen to your body and watch for anything unusual. If you feel pain or start bleeding after a swim, call your doctor and get checked out.
So many people forget that just because they’re in the water, they still need to drink some water to stay hydrated. It’s an activity, and for most of you, this will be outside. If you suffer dehydration, it could impact your milk supply, not to mention your overall health.
- Have a swimming buddy
It’s never a good idea to swim alone, even for experienced swimmers. You never know – you could bang your head on the wall while doing laps and knock yourself out. As a new mama, you’ll tire more easily.
Just to be on the safe side, have your husband or a friend there to watch out for you. I’d also strongly encourage using pool noodles to help support your body while doing your laps until you recover your strength.
Now, just hang in there until your doctor says you can go swimming again!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.