Congratulations on your new baby! Having a baby is a wonderful, life-changing event, but it can also be overwhelming and scary. It is important to follow the instructions below to keep you healthy and allow your body to heal.
- Get some rest - It is important to make sure you get as much rest as possible the first few weeks after your delivery. Enlist friends and family to help with housework such as laundry, cooking and cleaning. Use this time to bond with your new baby. Try to rest when your baby is sleeping.
- Activity and Driving - Take it slow the first few days after your delivery. You should get up and walk every 2-3 hours in the hospital and while at home. Do not lift anything over 10-15 lbs until your postpartum check up. Going up and down stairs is ok, just take it slowly. Push yourself to do a little more walking each day. Do not perform any vigorous exercise until you have been seen for your postpartum check up. You should not drive if you are taking prescription medication for pain. Most women will feel better by the end of the second week, but remember to start with short trips close to home.
- Breastfeeding - Try to breastfeed your baby every 2-4 hours. If your nipples are sore, try a warm washcloth to soften nipples before a feeding, then a cool washcloth or ice pack to nipples after feeding. Lanolin is a natural skin moisturizer than can help soothe cracked nipples – apply it after breastfeeding. If you have severe cracking, burning or pain of the nipples or breast, it may be a sign of a problem. Call the office to determine if you need additional medication or treatment.
- Pain - The uterus shrinks quickly after childbirth, returning to its normal size in approximately 4 weeks. It is common to feel contraction-like pains after delivery, especially when breastfeeding. This is normal. Take your pain medication every 4-6 hours as needed. If your pain medication is not relieving your pain, please call the office.
- Bleeding - Vaginal bleeding should decrease 48-72 hours after birth. Bleeding may be heavier after you have been lying down for a few hours, this is normal. Bleeding will increase if you do too much or do not get enough rest. The bleeding may continue for 3-6 weeks after delivery. If bleeding becomes heavy and you are soaking pads with bright red blood, you should call the office.
- Fever - You may feel hot and cold after your delivery, as the sudden drop in hormone levels can trigger these changes. If you feel hot or cold, you should check your temperature with a thermometer. If your temperature is over 100.5, you should call the office.
- Showering and Bathing - It is safe to shower 24 hours after delivery. If you have had a vaginal delivery, tub baths are ok. Try to bathe in warm (not hot) water. If you have had a c-section, you can gently wash your incision with mild soap and water. Gently pat dry and do not rub or scrub your incision. You should avoid tub baths for at least 4 weeks. If you have steri-strips over your incision, you can gently remove these after 7 days.
- Episiotomy - Your episiotomy has been repaired with stiches that will dissolve on their own. Sitting in a tub of warm water 2-3 times daily will help speed healing in this area and keep it clean. Every time you have a bowel movement, you should cleanse this area with warm water. Always wipe away from the stitches.
- C-Section - Your c-section incision may have been closed with stiches that dissolve, or you may have metal clips holding the skin together that need to be removed. You should clean your incision with mild soap and water at least once daily. It is normal to have bruising around your incision. Do not use alcohol or peroxide to clean your incision. Try and let it get as much air as possible. You may remove the steri-strips after 7 days. If your incision is very red or if it is leaking fluid, you should call the office.
- Sex - You should avoid sex, tampons and douching until your postpartum visit.
- Bowel Movements and Constipation - Make sure to drink plenty of water to prevent constipation. You can take a stool softener such as Colace every day to help prevent constipation, especially if you are taking pain medication. If you have not had a bowel movement within 2-3 days after delivery, you can take a mild laxative such as milk of magnesia.
- Postpartum Check up - Your doctor will need to see you 4 weeks after delivery to check the progress of your healing. At this visit, they will discuss birth control, look at any incisions and check on your mood.