After having a baby, regardless of what type of delivery it was, it is important for a new mother to get plenty of rest her first week at home. Being up at night with a newborn, experiencing fluctuating hormones, having breast milk come in, and having a lower blood count all contribute to exhaustion, which can also lead to depression. A new mother should plan to take naps while her baby sleeps, and try to arrange for help with older siblings and daily household duties so she can concentrate on recovering from childbirth and taking care of her baby.

After the first week, mom should start to increase her activity level by taking daily walks. Walking aids in the healing process and provides a mother with more energy and a sense of well-being. Taking her baby out in a stroller is an ideal way to get light exercise.

A woman who has had a cesarean section should avoid lifting anything over 25 pounds in the first two weeks, and then gradually increase weight as long as she doesn't experience discomfort. She should also wait to drive for at least two weeks, and must be off pain medication before taking the wheel.

Strenuous exercise shouldn't begin for at least a month after birth and, typically, sexual intercourse can resume about six weeks following the baby's arrival. However, new mothers should consult their doctors and get approval before returning to full exercise workouts or engaging in intercourse.

• Dr. Michael Urig is chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call Urig's Ahwatukee office at (480) 759-9191.

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