Your body has been through major changes in the last nine months, and it will take several months for you to return to your pre-pregnancy state. This information, along with advice from your provider and other healthcare professionals, will help you recover more quickly from the childbirth experience so you can enjoy being home with your new baby.
Caring For Your Body After Baby
Sitz Bath—If you had a vaginal delivery and have episiotomy stitches or have had hemorrhoids, you will continue using your sitz bath at home at least twice a day for a week or longer. Use warm water in the sitz bath.
Peri Bottle—Use your peri bottle with warm water every time you use the bathroom for as long as your bleeding continues.
- Direct the spray from front to back.
- Always wipe from front to back.
- Put on a clean pad every time you go to the bathroom.
Other Peri-care Supplies
Your doctor may order other products if you need them after you deliver. Always wash your hands before and after use.
Epifoam—This product soothes the area and promotes healing. Apply a small amount to your fingers or a Tucks pad if you have those ordered. Put the foam directly on your stitches or hemorrhoids. You may use this product three or four times a day.
Tucks or witch hazel pads—Putting a pad over the stitches or hemorrhoids may help soothe the area.
Bleeding—You will experience vaginal bleeding called lochia over the next several weeks. For the first one to three days after your delivery, it will look like a period. It should be dark red, and it may have small clots. From Day 3 to Day 10, this flow turns to pink or brown. After 10 days, the flow should be white or pale yellow. You may experience bleeding for up to six weeks. You may pass clots. If you are soaking a pad every 30 minutes to an hour, you should call your doctor.
Uterus—Your uterus stretched to hold your infant and now needs to shrink back to a tight ball of muscle. Right after birth, the uterus is just below the belly button. Each day after your delivery, the uterus shrinks about one finger width. By the end of the second week, you should no longer be able to feel the top of your uterus through your belly.
- In the shower, simply allow water to run over the incision area to clean it.
- No covering is necessary for your incision area.
- If Steri-Strips are used on your incision, they may peel off on their own. If not, carefully remove them after one week.
- Report any drainage or swelling in the incision area to your doctor.
Talk to your doctor before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications.
- Take this medicine with food or milk. Use caution or avoid this medicine if you have high blood pressure of any kind. Talk to you doctor about this situation.
- Stool softeners may be taken two times a day, if needed.
- This medication will help you avoid constipation.
- Your doctor will send you home with pain medicine, if necessary.
- Prescription medicines for pain may cause drowsiness and also may lead to constipation.
- While nipple tenderness is normal, breastfeeding should be comfortable (not painful) for you. Call a lactation consultant if pain is present.
- Clean breasts by letting water run over them in the shower. Do not use soap or lotion on breasts.
- Hydrogel pads and Lansinoh cream may be used on sore nipples.
- Allow breasts to be exposed to the air whenever possible.
- Use specially designed breast pads or a large handkerchief in your bra to prevent leakage through to your clothes.
- Please call us with your concerns: (864) 455-BABY (2229).
- Frequent feeding is the best way to avoid engorgement.
- An engorged breast will tighten the nipple, making it difficult for your baby to get enough of the nipple in the mouth.
- Apply warm compresses to the breast before the feeding.
- If the nipple is very tight, expressing milk for a few minutes before breastfeeding will soften your nipple.
- Cold packs after and in-between feedings may be necessary.
- Most breastfeeding mothers do not need a breast pump in the hospital.
- We offer a manual pump or a universal electric breast pump kit for use in the hospital, if needed. Please talk to your nurse or lactation consultant.
- For information on renting or purchasing breast pumps from GHS Women’s Hospital, ask your lactation consultant.
As many as half of all postpartum women experience some type of depression shortly after delivery. The depression varies in severity from mild to serious.
The baby blues occurs soon after the baby’s birth and lasts less than a week. During this time, you may cry easily or be very emotional, which may be related to a drop in hormone levels after delivery. About 80 percent of all
women who have children experience baby blues.
True postpartum depression occurs between one week and one year after the baby’s birth, but it is most likely to occur one week to six months postpartum. Around 10 percent of women suffer from postpartum depression or anxiety. Symptoms include anxiety, nervousness, panic, sadness, depression, poor concentration, uncontrollable crying, irritability, exhaustion and sluggishness.
Postpartum psychosis is the least common but the most severe type of postpartum depression. Symptoms are exaggerated and may include insomnia, hallucinations, agitation, and very unusual feelings and behavior.
What new moms can do to help relieve postpartum blues:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help in taking care of your baby.
- Rest so that you can regain strength. Lack of sleep heightens feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Eat a healthy diet and try to get some exercise. The better you feel about yourself, the better you will feel about everything else.
- Talk to other women who understand what you are going through.
If you feel depressed for a long time, feel like you cannot take care of yourself or your baby, or think you might hurt yourself or your baby, get professional help at once.
Increase your fiber intake to prevent constipation.
- High-fiber foods include fresh fruits, vegetables, bran cereals and whole-grain breads.
- Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day may help prevent constipation, too.
Increase your protein intake to promote healing.
- Good protein sources include milk, eggs, chicken, turkey, lean red meat, dried beans and peas, and peanut butter.
Calcium and iron also are necessary for postpartum women.
- Good sources of calcium are dairy products and leafy green vegetables.
- Good sources of iron are liver, Cream of Wheat, spinach and raisins.
- Calcium and iron also can be found in supplements.
Breastfeeding mothers require an additional 500 calories each day. Try to consume as a minimum the following amounts:
- Four servings of dairy—milk, cheese, yogurt
- Three servings of protein—fish, chicken, meat, beans
- Five servings of fruits and vegetables
- Nine servings of bread/grains—whole-grain breads, pasta, cereal
You will continue your prenatal vitamins while you are nursing. Avoid gas-producing foods, carbonated drinks and drinking with straws (which increases air in the stomach) if you have had a C-section or a tubal ligation.
Exercising postpartum may help speed your recovery by improving circulation and building strength.
Good postpartum exercises include Kegel exercises, stationary cycling and walking.
Kegel exercises improve the tone of the pelvic floor muscles, which may have been weakened during childbirth. To perform Kegel exercises, follow these steps:
- Empty your bladder and lie on your back. With your knees bent, place one hand on your stomach and the other hand over your vagina and contract (tighten) the same muscles that you would contract if you were trying to prevent gas from leaking from your rectum or urine from your bladder.
- While you are contracting your pelvic floor muscles, the hand on your abdomen should not feel any contraction of the abdominal muscles—the abdomen should be soft. The hand over your vagina should feel some movement, even if it is very small.
- Repeat the exercise until you are able to contract only your pelvic floor muscles without contracting your abdominal muscles.
- Once you find the correct muscles, contract these muscles for five seconds, then release.
- Repeat 15 times. As these muscles strengthen, increase the number of repetitions and/or the length of time you hold the contraction.
Instructions for Postpartum Activity
- Do not drive for at least two weeks postpartum or as your provider instructs.
- Avoid douches, tampons and sexual activity for six weeks or until instructed by your provider.
- Do not exercise strenuously until your six-week checkup.
- Do not lift anything heavier than your baby.
- You may climb stairs, but you will want to take it easy. Spending most of your time either up or downstairs will be helpful when first at home.
- Rest when your baby is resting, even during the day. Adequate rest helps speed recovery.
Rest when your baby is resting, even during the day. Adequate rest helps speed recovery.