Giving birth is a huge deal — you just produced life, and the toll it takes on your body is going to reflect that. Though you likely just want to get back to your pre-delivery activities, it's important to allow yourself some time to recover — post-delivery symptoms need to ease up, the pain needs to subside, and you need to get used to the new normal. Self-care always helps, but before you run to the salon for a fresh cut and color, you might wonder — can you drive after giving birth?
Recovering from childbirth is not easy, and can include pain and other undesirable symptoms. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), maternal mortality is highest in the postpartum period, so it is absolutely vital for you to take care of yourself. As the APA mentioned, the needs of the mother should always be considered a priority, and rest and self-care is of utmost importance. Organizing a support team ahead of time to help with meals and child care can allow you some space to recover in a positive manner.
Once you are home and recovering, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to driving off to Target for an hour of baby-free time.
Recovery timelines are based on your individual body and the type of birth you went through, as the Mayo Clinic mentioned. Vaginal deliveries often have different symptoms and recovery times than C-section deliveries. If you've had a vaginal delivery, you could resume driving as soon as your pain, fatigue, and discomfort subsides, typically within a week or so, according to Champion Women's Health Specialists in Oklahoma. Kids Health also noted that you should be able to make sudden movements and wear a seat belt without discomfort before resuming driving.
According to Triangle Physicians for Women (TP4W), a nationally recognized patient-centered practice, C-sections generally require longer recovery times, as they are major surgeries. It's recommended that you wait to drive until at least two weeks post-delivery, when you're more able to brake and shift suddenly without pain or discomfort.
If you are still taking narcotic pain medication to help with delivery-related pain, you should not drive at all. In fact, as TP4W noted, it's suggested to wait at least two to three days after your last dose of narcotic pain medication before driving again.
Always check with your doctor before resuming your normal pre-delivery activities, including driving. Recovery is not a process to be rushed. Taking this time to care for your new baby and yourself will be undoubtedly be time well spent. (Plus, everyone gets to chauffeur you around. Enjoy it.)