Congratulations! Bringing home your new baby is an experience that you will cherish for the rest of your life. Please use the following guidelines to help you through the next six weeks.
For the first couple of weeks after you return home, you should do nothing but take care of yourself and your new baby. Changing diapers and feeding the baby may require most of your strength and energy. This is a good opportunity to let your friends and family take care of everything else such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and driving.
Continue to maintain your pregnancy diet, and keep taking your prenatal vitamins, especially if you are breastfeeding. Drink plenty of fluids, and avoid spicy foods. Extra fiber and fluids will prevent constipation. Try not to consume any one food or nutrient more than others.
Having a baby is a very emotional time. It’s not uncommon to be tired, sad, or “let down” after the excitement of pregnancy and delivery. Babies aren’t always cute and cuddly. They cry, keep you awake at night, dirty their diapers, and place new demands on your time, all while you are still physically recovering from the pregnancy.
If possible, encourage the father to take an active role in caring for your new baby so that he also feels useful. The change in hormones after delivery and with breastfeeding may also influence your emotional state. Understand that these feelings are NORMAL. With sufficient rest and good nutrition, your symptoms should improve. If depression is severe or continuous, please call your provider.
Moving around will help you regain your energy and strength. It’s ok to begin walking for brief intervals after two weeks. You may begin taking postnatal exercise classes after six weeks, unless otherwise instructed by your provider. Avoid strenuous or aerobic exercises until you have your postpartum checkup.
Don’t do too much too fast! It took nine months for the muscles to expand; it may take nine months to regain tone. To improve your pelvic floor muscles, continue practicing Kegel exercises. Remember, the more active you are, the heavier you may bleed and the less milk you may produce, so use your discretion.
If your breasts become tender and full, decrease your consumption of liquids for several days. It’s very important to wear a supportive bra for 24 hours a day for at least one week. Use ice packs on your breasts, and take Tylenol® for any discomfort. The engorgement will usually start to subside within a week of delivery. If you have any questions or concerns, please call our office at 217-366-1255. It’s also important to report any pain, redness, or increased temperature of your breasts, which could signal a breast infection.
Breast-fed babies may eat as often as every two hours until your milk is well established. It’s not necessary to wash your nipples before nursing. Remember to nurse your baby for up to 15 minutes on each side at each feeding. Always begin nursing on the side you finished with the previous feeding.
Before you put your bra on, let your nipples air dry. If your nipples become tender, use Massé cream, lanolin cream, or vitamin E oil, which can be purchased at most drugstores. Apply a liberal amount to your nipple area after each feeding. When breastfeeding, it’s important to wear a properly fitting bra 24 hours a day. In addition, maintain consumption of eight to 10 glasses of fluids a day to ensure adequate breast milk production. It’s not necessary to drink milk to produce milk; juices and water will produce an adequate supply of breast milk.
The bleeding, or lochia, you experience at the hospital will continue after you go home. It may increase slightly when you first get home because you are more active than you were in the hospital. It may also be heavier and last longer than a period.
After breastfeeding, you may also have an increase in flow. It may persist on and off or continuously for up to six to eight weeks after delivery. As the weeks pass, it should decrease gradually. If an increase of bright red bleeding occurs, call our office immediately. Continue to use your peri-bottle at home until your bleeding has completely stopped.
Daily showers or baths are recommended. For episiotomy and hemorrhoid discomfort, take a sitz bath or a tub bath. Putting just enough warm water in the tub to cover your bottom can do this. DO NOT use perfumed bubble baths. You may take a sitz bath three to four times a day if necessary for episiotomy comfort and healing. Use the peri-bottle from the hospital after urination for the first few weeks. If you’ve had a cesarean section, do not take a bubble bath until consulting with your provider.
If you are bottle feeding, you may begin your period within six to eight weeks. Breastfeeding usually delays your first period, and some women may go many months without experiencing a period. You will ovulate before your first period, so you can get pregnant prior to beginning your period. Contraception will be discussed at your postpartum checkup.
Most women are able to have intercourse after their post-partum checkup. However, this may vary from woman to woman depending on the circumstances of your delivery. It’s not uncommon to experience slight discomfort the first couple times. If you have any questions or concerns, please call our office.
If you’ve had a vaginal delivery, be sure to make a follow-up appointment in approximately four to six weeks. This may also vary depending upon the circumstances of your delivery.
If you’ve had a cesarean section, you’ll come back for a visit seven to 14 days postpartum for an incision check (sometimes sooner for staple removal) and then again at four to six weeks postpartum for a routine follow up.
If you have any questions or concerns prior to or after this visit, please call our office. You may want to coordinate these visits with your pediatric visits.
If you experience any of the following danger signs, please call the office:
- You have bleeding that soaks a pad every hour or pass clots the size of your fist.
- You have a fever over 100.4°.
- There are reddened, tender areas on your breasts.
- The vaginal or incisional discharge becomes foul smelling.
- You are unable to function because of depression.
This is a very special event in your life. A new baby brings new joys and concerns to every family. As your health care providers, we have dedicated ourselves to making this transition as easy and natural as possible.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions or concerns. Our office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Plus, a provider is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be contacted after hours through our answering service at 217-366-1255.