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New Mom Guidelines

Taking care of you following the birth of your baby

We have assembled guidelines to help you recover following the birth of your baby.

Be sure to discuss your specific questions and concerns with your health care provider.

Rest: Get as much rest as you can, whenever you can.

Your baby will have you up at night. Rest whenever your baby is sleeping. Every new mom needs rest, and a breastfeeding mother needs rest to produce her full milk supply.

Activity: Start small and build gradually.

Begin today with Kegel exercises. For your first 2 weeks at home, limit stair climbing and lift no more than 10 pounds or the weight of your baby. You may drive when you are no longer taking narcotic pain medications.

Sex: To prevent pregnancy, use birth control.

Intercourse can typically be resumed after your follow-up appointment with your health care provider. If you have unprotected sex after childbirth, you can get pregnant right away, whether or not you are breastfeeding or have had a menstrual period. For birth control if you resume sex before your follow-up appointment, use contraceptive foams and condoms.

Emotions: Many new moms experience "the blues."

You may cry for no reason or experience extreme tiredness, lack of feeling for the baby, anxiety, a short-temper and lack of confidence. To help stay positive, get as much rest as possible, make healthy eating choices and allow others to help you. If these feelings persist beyond two weeks, or if you find it difficult to meet your baby's needs, call your health care provider.

Vaginal Discharge: Expect changes for up to 6 weeks.

You will experience changes in vaginal discharge as time passes. Changes in your position, especially after extended sitting or lying down, can prompt a gush of vaginal discharge and possibly some clots. Two weeks after delivery, some women have very little discharge, while others experience decreasing discharge up to 4-6 weeks after delivery.

What to expect the first two weeks:
  • Days 1 -3: Vaginal discharge will be red like a menstrual period and you may have small clots.
  • Days 3 - 4: Amount decreases and color lightens. Red drainage means you should slow down and rest more.
  • About Day 10: Expect a change to a watery, light pink fluid or a whitish-yellow creamy discharge.
  • Days 7 - 14: A return of red vaginal bleeding is likely due to normal healing of the placenta site.

Peri bottle: Rinse and pat dry after every bathroom break.

Wash the perineum, the entire area between your legs, with mild soap and water at least once daily. While you are still having any drainage, use your peri bottle every time you use the bathroom. Spray a full bottle of warm water over perineum, then blot dry with toilet paper front to back.

Constipation: A healthy lifestyle promotes regularity.

To help avoid constipation, drink 8 - 10 glasses of fluid each day and eat foods high in fiber, such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Moderate activity such as walking will help prevent constipation. You may also take over-the-counter stool softener medications, such as Colace or Surfak, if you like.

Hemorrhoids: Simple treatments can relieve this common, temporary problem.

Hemorrhoids that develop during pregnancy or during labor and delivery usually shrink with time. To relieve discomfort, use chilled Tucks pads, warm tub baths or hemorrhoid ointment.

Cramping: These pains are normal and will pass in a few days.

For 2 -3 days after your baby is born, you may experience cramping or afterbirth pains (especially during breastfeeding) as your uterus begins to return to pre-pregnancy size. To relieve discomfort, take Tylenol or Ibuprofen as directed.

Breast care for breastfeeding moms:

Wash your breasts and nipples in plain, warm water and pat dry daily, avoiding the use of soaps or lotions unless directed by your health care provider or lactation consultant. Wear a supportive bra, using bra pads that you change often if your breasts leak. Allow nipples to air dry after each feeding.

Breast care for formula-feeding moms:

Your breasts may still become full and tender. Wear a snug-fitting, supportive bra day and night for 1-2 weeks. Try to handle your breasts as little as possible for 5-7 days after delivery, and avoid letting hot water run on your breasts while showering.

To relieve discomfort, apply ice packs to your breasts for 15-20 minutes at a time, 3-4 times a day, and take Tylenol or Ibuprofen as directed.

Care following a vaginal birth:

Your stitches will dissolve on their own in 1-2 weeks. To relieve swelling and discomfort:
  • Take a warm tub bath 3-4 times per day.
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in a clean towel for 20 minutes at a time with a 10-minute rest.
  • Use Tucks pads or Dermaplast spray and take Tylenol or Ibuprofen as directed.

Care following a Cesarean birth:

The steri-strip tapes on your incision will fall off on their own in 2-7 days. You can remove any steri-strips that remain after 7 days. After you shower, pat the incision dry. Use a hand-held mirror to check for healing.

If you notice any separation of the incision, redness, discharge, swelling or increased pain, notify your health care provider. Take pain medications as prescribed by your health care provider.

When to call your health care provider:

  • Body temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
  • Foul-smelling or discolored (yellow) discharge from your stitches or vagina
  • Heavy bleeding (filling one sanitary pad per hour)
  • Passing large blood clots the size of an egg.
  • Warm, red, painful areas on your breast.
  • Pain, burning or difficulty with urination.
  • Severe headaches.
  • "Baby blues" lasting longer than 2 weeks.
  • Infection or separation of the cesarean incision.


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