For most new mothers who have had few if any complications and are recuperating well, not-too-strenuous travel one to two weeks after a vaginal delivery and three to four weeks after a c-section is fine. But it’s also important during this time to listen carefully to the signals your body is sending.
Remember that recovery from childbirth takes time, rest, and assistance. Travel can be stressful, and jet lag can compound the fatigue you’re already experiencing. The first several weeks after delivery can be emotionally difficult as well. Breast milk often takes a week to come in, and it may also take time for breastfeeding moms (especially first-timers) and their babies to settle into a routine. If extensive postdelivery stitching was necessary, vaginal discomfort may persist for some time and vigorous exercise can make it worse.
Regardless of your mode of travel, take it as easy as possible and stick to the same healthy habits you observed during pregnancy. Discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider before you go, and always know where you can obtain medical care on the road if needed. During the trip, drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Wear comfortable clothes and get up regularly to stretch your legs and walk around a bit (every hour or so is ideal) to prevent blood clotting, for which you’re at an increased risk in the weeks after childbirth. If your pregnancy was complicated, carry a copy of your medical records.
Fortunately, complications such as blood clotting, infection, and hemorrhage are rare — particularly after the first week or two following delivery. Complications specific to c-sections, including wound infection and incision separation, are also more likely to occur in the first several days after delivery. Rarely do such problems arise more than six weeks afterward, though c-sections can sometimes cause prolonged postdelivery pain and fatigue. That’s why most doctors recommend waiting at least three to four weeks to travel after surgery.
Russell Turk obstetrician
Mayo Clinic. 2015. Episiotomy: When it’s needed, when it’s not. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/episiotomy/art-20047282 [Accessed November 2016]
MedlinePlus (ADAM). 2016. C-section. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002911.htm [Accessed November 2016]
Nemours Foundation. 2015. Breastfeeding FAQs: Getting started. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/breastfeed-starting.html [Accessed November 2016