Doctors recommend you wait for four to six weeks after birth before you start swimming. At some point, the method you use in delivering your newborn will determine how long you should take to heal. The quicker you heal, the faster you may start swimming, but it will not take more than eight weeks.
I’m a 32-year-old woman and a mother of one girl and two boys. A few months ago, I gave birth to my second boy. Swimming is my favorite exercise from a tender age. At some stage of my life, I participated in swimming athletics. After my first successful delivery, I went back to swimming, abandoning the doctor’s directives, something terrible happened. I was back in the hospital for a couple of days.
From my experience, giving birth is a body and life-changing process. The body takes several months of preparation for a successful delivery. On the other hand, after birth, the body takes a few weeks to return to the pre-delivery position depending on how you delivered your newborn.
Swimming is an effective low-impact form of exercise that helps in strengthening the body, muscle tone, and burning calories. Aside from that, swimming has been recommended as the best exercise to help women recover quickly after giving birth. Because swimming works on your core, upper, and lower body muscles.
Before you venture into comfortable aqua aerobics, you are advised to start with simple pool exercises like walking, aqua jogging, and slow swimming laps. This informative article will look in-depth at everything women should know about swimming after giving birth.
Table of Contents
When can I swim after giving birth?
After successful delivery, women should wait four to six weeks before swimming. After that, you should not swim until your vaginal discharge has stopped and your vaginal lacerations healed fully. By doing this, you avoid bacteria from entering your body that may cause vaginal infections.
There are different types of birth, and some women take six weeks, others take eight weeks to swim, depending on the birth method.
The following are the birth types and the duration that one can take before swimming.
1. Natural vaginal birth
Many women deliver their bundle of joy through this method. When you give birth through this straightforward method, you take the shortest time to heal compared to the other methods. The cervix closes its lips fully within four to six days after delivery, and a woman can start simple exercises like walking in less than a week.
The vaginal discharge will take eight to ten days to taper but take up to four weeks to stop. You can get to the pool for your swimming exercise after four weeks, as your body will have completely healed.
2. Cesarean delivery
Women that undergo c-sections take a longer time to recover compared to those of vaginal birth.
Once the vaginal discharge has completely stopped and you have finished at least seven weeks, you can swim. However, this happens after the doctor has checked the healing state of the incisions.
During a c-section, six different tissue layers are opened to help you deliver, and doctors use dissolvable Vicryl and chromic stitches on the incision.
You can swim with the stitches, as you do not need to remove them as long as the incision completely heals.
Avoid returning too soon to swimming if you underwent episiotomy, giving the body time to heal from the stitches completely. When you return to the pool, before your stitches heal, you subject your body to infections. There are four levels of vaginal laceration, and they include;
A small scrape at the vaginal tissue requires stitches for some women. However, some do not need more stitches, and it takes them less than six weeks to get back to the pool.
A deep vaginal laceration that most of the time requires stitching. Many women fall under this category, and they take up to six weeks to heal and start swimming.
A laceration that spreads to the anal sphincter and a woman at this stage requires stitching. Women under the third degree take more time to recover and take long before getting back to the pool.
Women who fall under this level go through much pain and take the most prolonged to heal. Because laceration tears from the vagina to the rectum. It can take ten weeks for a woman under this category to get to the swimming pool.
What are the risks of swimming after giving birth?
Many doctors advise women who have delivered not to rush back to the pools before they fully heal. Instead, they recommend a four to six weeks break to allow the vagina discharge to stop and the cervix to close.
When you swim before you recover fully, the risk of bacteria getting into your body is very high. These bacterias cause infections that will need medication from the hospital.
Avoid swimming in the ocean, rivers, or lakes because notorious bacterias live in such places. After delivery, the best place to swim is in private pools, as the water is chlorinated with less to no bacteria.
Infections can go through your open wound or open cervix and cause postpartum endometritis. Apart from this, one can feel intense pain, extreme fatigue, and excessive bleeding making your life miserable.
Is swimming an excellent postpartum exercise?
Among many available workouts, you can consider swimming as the best exercise for women who have delivered.
Mainly because you do not insert pressure into your joints as it is aerobic, low impact exercise. You can swim to lose fats accumulated during pregnancy and attain your physical body before getting pregnant.
One way to increase recovery of your ligaments and the pelvic floor is by swimming.
Additionally, postpartum swimming can improve your muscle tone and increase cardiovascular endurance. Aside from physical benefits, swimming decreases depression, according to research conducted by Oxford University.
Doctors recommend at least 160 minutes for moderate aerobic exercises in the aquatic environment each week. By doing this, you increase your body energy and improve your sleeping ability.
What to avoid when swimming
By all means, avoid using any feminine or douches after or before birth because the vagina cleans itself naturally. In addition, feminine and douches increase the risk of infections causing postpartum endometritis and vaginal vaginosis.
When you can swim, based on the type of baby delivery you had
|How long for vaginal lochia stops||Two to three days||Four to five days||Less than a week|
|How long for the vagina take to heal||Less than four days||six to seven days||Up to ten days|
|How long before swimming||Three to four weeks||Four to five weeks||Six to eight weeks|
Can I swim with a tampon during the postpartum period?
Avoid tampons when swimming, especially the first few weeks of successful delivery. The main reason is that tampons act as a home of bacterias that can cause vaginal endometritis and other infections.
Suppose you need to use a tampon for swimming, you should wait until your vaginal lacerations heal and the cervix closes to avoid bacteria entering your body.
Can I bathe immediately after childbirth?
No, you should avoid bathing immediately after delivering because water increases the risk of uterine infections. Instead, take a shower the following day and avoid scrubbing your laceration and incisions you need to let the water flow.
What duration does the cervix take to close after birth?
There is no exact time-proven the cervix takes to close. However, doctors say once your vaginal discharge and bleeding ceases, the next step is for the cervix to close.
It takes approximately up to four weeks. Remember, the cervix takes months of slow opening and opens over twelve centimeters; also, it requires time to get back to its normal state.
How long can I expect the postpartum blues?
In less than two weeks, your hormones change their functionality, altering your emotions when you give birth. If the postpartum blues persist and extend to a month, you can sever from postpartum depression.
The symptoms to look out for include loss of appetite, hopelessness, lack of concentration, sleeping problems, anxiety, and fear.
There are various training programs for women who have delivered, but swimming stands out as the best exercise. Swimming after birth has both physical advantages and emotional benefits.
You can increase your energy, improve muscle tone, lose fat, and increase muscle endurance, among other physical benefits. In addition, you can sleep well after a day of intense aerobic swimming and minimize depression chance in your life.
When you swim, you reduce the anxiety and fear that channel depression symptoms and get quality sleep. Therefore, it is advisable to start with slow and gentle pool exercises before graduating to intense workout plans over time.
The only precaution to take is to wait until your cervix closes fully, vaginal laceration, and stitches heal completely. This will reduce the risk of bacterias entering your body, causing infections like endometritis and vaginosis.