Welcome to the first post in my new series Just a Quick Question where I answer every day concerns, niggles and frequently asked health questions. I have a long list of things that people have asked me over the years and decided it would be helpful to put them all in one place on my blog.
Just a quick question … How soon can I go swimming after giving birth?
It’s not until you’re a post natal mum with a new baby that questions like this come up. Suddenly you start wondering if swimming is ok. Will swimming put you at risk of infection? Can you swim if you still have some light bleeding? Is it ok to swim if you have stitches? Is it alright to use a tampon for swimming after childbirth? All the advice seems to be about how soon it’s ok for your baby to swim but what about you?

Well, as usual, there’s no set time when it’s Ok for you to dive back into the pool. It depends on the type of delivery you had, any complications and how you feel in yourself.  If you had a normal vaginal delivery and you didn’t tear, have to be cut (episiotomy) or require any stitches, then really you can swim as soon as your bleeding and discharge (also known as lochia) has totally stopped. This might take four to six weeks. It’s always best to make sure your pelvic floor and core muscles are strong again before you begin anything more than light exercise. In an ideal world you would see a women’s health physiotherapist to assess you as an individual and guide your return to exercise.

By the way, you should use sanitary towels and not tampons to soak up blood after giving birth because of a risk of infection.

If you did tear or had to have stitches, then you’ll need to wait until the wounds have fully healed up before you swim. You can check with your midwife or health visitor if you aren’t sure.

If you had a C-section then you’ll need to wait a little longer and at least until after your six-week check with your GP. Your wound needs to have healed up fully so if there’s a little weepy or oozy corner then you should hang on. Don’t rush, wait until you feel ready. Swimming is ideal to introduce from about 8 -12 weeks post partum.

When the time comes, don’t forget it’s always best to start back to exercise gradually. Try some walking in the water and very gentle swimming to see how you feel.  You can build it up over a few weeks. Swimming is a great way to exercise after giving birth because it’s low impact and won’t put too much pressure on your pelvic floor which is weakened during pregnancy and in labour. The pool is a great place to find that much needed time to yourself too.

If you want to get back to more vigorous exercise then the advice is again to take it gradually. It’s vital to make sure that your pelvic floor muscles and core are fully strong again after pregnancy to protect you against urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse in the future. Here’s a link to an article by the expert physiotherapists who created the Return to Running Postnatal Guidelines which can be adapted for all types of exercise.

I hope that helps.
There are more answers to questions like these and lots of health information to help you lead a happy and active life in my book Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health.
Disclaimer: I can’t give personal medical advice and as always with health advice, reading something online doesn’t replace seeing your doctor who knows your medical history and can assess you in person.  So, if you are unsure then always seek the opinion of a health care professional. 
Featured image: Pexels at Pixabay

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