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Elena Donovan Mauer

Postpartum Recovery: What You'll Be Able to Do When

Eager to eat sushi? Have sex? Have a drink? Get the scoop on when you'll be able to get back to it postbirth.

After baby’s born, here’s when you’ll be able to…

…hold the baby?

Right away. Moms who deliver vaginally and have an uncomplicated birth usually get to hold their babies within minutes — even seconds! Some experts believe that immediate skin-to-skin contact is important for mom/baby bonding and that breastfeeding as soon as you can helps baby learn better too. Baby may get whisked away soon after too get weighed and cleaned up, but don’t worry. You’ll get to keep him.

…go home?

2-4 days. Vaginal birth usually requires a two-night stay in the hospital — you’d probably be fine to leave after 24 hours, but baby could need to be observed a little longer than that. If you get a c-section, the norm is generally about four days, as long as you’re recovering normally.

…drink coffee?

Within hours. If you’re really craving a cup of java, you can probably have one with our postdelivery meal. Just don’t go too crazy. If you’re breastfeeding, you should keep to about one to two cups a day or less, like you did during pregnancy.

…eat sushi?

As soon as you want! Yay! Once you give birth, you no longer have to miss out on indulging in raw seafood. But if you’re breastfeeding, stick to low-mercury fish like salmon, shrimp, and whitefish.

…drive a car?

1-6 weeks. No, you shouldn’t drive home from the hospital, and you’ll want to wait until any medication is out of your system and you’re not in pain before you get behind the wheel. If you had a c-section, though, your doctor will probably tell you to wait about six weeks so there’s no risk of tearing your incision.


1-8 weeks. If you’re normally active and you have a complication-free delivery, you may be able to do light exercise (like walking — don’t push it!) within days of delivery. Of course, you’re more likely to feel like exercising around four weeks. And any medical procedures or a c-section could keep you resting longer.

…have sex?

6 weeks. Wait until your doctor clears you before you do the deed. Usually, this happens at the first postpartum checkup, which is around six weeks after birth (even if you had multiples!). If you had certain complications, had stitches that haven’t healed well or some other issue, your doc may say to wait longer.

…take birth control?

6 weeks. You don’t need it if you aren’t having sex! If you’re breastfeeding and want to be on birth control medication, you’ll have to opt for a progestin-only pill, which is less likely to affect your milk supply than combination pills. Ask your doctor about other options, like an IUD, too.

…go back to work?

6 weeks-4 months. Of course, this depends on your employer’s maternity leave policy and your financial situation, but short-term disability insurance normally covers six weeks for vaginal delivery and eight weeks for a c-section.

…have celebratory champagne?

Within days. Itching for a drink? The good news is you could have one right after baby is born if you really wanted to. But remember: It’s not a good idea to drink more than a glass here and there if you’re breastfeeding. Plus, it should be at a moment when you know there will be a long time until baby’s next feeding, and baby isn’t exactly predictable just yet. And we doubt you’ll want bubbly right after birth — sleep and a burger might be more your speed. We say wait at least a couple days.

Expert: Daniel Roshan, MD, ob-gyn at Rosh Maternal-Fetal Medicine in New York City.

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