Postpartum Care

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.

We’ve put together these helpful tips for caring for your body after baby.

Care after C-section

Incision Care

  • 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.

Medications
Talk to your doctor before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications.

Ibuprofen

  • 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

  • Stool softeners may be taken two times a day, if needed.
  • This medication will help you avoid constipation.

Pain Medication

  • Your doctor will send you home with pain medicine, if necessary.
  • Prescription medicines for pain may cause drowsiness and also may lead to constipation.

Breast Care

Breastfeeding Mothers

  • 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).

Engorgement

  • 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.

Breast Pumps

  • 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 Prisma Health Women’s Hospital, ask your lactation consultant.

Postpartum Depression

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.

Baby Blues
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.

Postpartum Depression
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
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.

Basic Nutrition

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.

Activity

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.