Q&A: When can I swim after a vaginal birth?

Queesland-based Mum’s Grapevine Due Date group member Jess is hot and bothered after giving birth, and really wants to take a dip. But she’s not sure if it’s safe.

The hot weather really has me struggling but I only gave birth two weeks ago and am not sure if I can go for a swim? I’ve been told public pools are a no-no for at least six weeks, is that true?

Jess, Mum's Grapevine reader

Mums Grapevine expert, specialist obstetrician Dr Gary Sykes explains why even baths are no-go-zones after birth.

The answer has to do with lochia and healing.

Vaginal bleeding (lochia) after a delivery suggests that the uterus lining has not fully healed. Because of this swimming or any other water activities (including even taking a bath) are associated with the risk of infection (endometritis or infection of the lining of the uterus).

You should only have showers and no swimming, baths, or spas until after the lochia ceases. If you have had trauma to the vagina, vulva, or perineum with delivery, then until there’s full healing there’s the risk of infection. As well prolonged immersion of the sutured area in water, excessive activity in the first weeks can result in sutures not holding and the sutured area splitting open.

The amount of childbirth trauma will vary and so you need to be guided by the person who did the suturing to determine what period is appropriate to delay swimming.

Thanks Dr Sykes.

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