Right after your baby is born, you will be very tired and may feel weak or faint. Have plenty of rest after childbirth and drink plenty of fluids. At the hospital, don’t try to do too much too soon. Your providers and nurses will guide you through gaining your strength back safely. If you become concerned, please contact your doctor about this.
If you had a cesarean birth, commonly known as C-section, it’s important to take care of your incision. Make sure it stays clean and dry, and dry it off gently if your provider has said it is safe for you to shower. If you have a bandage over your incision, your provider will show you how to remove it when it is time.
Be careful to not overexert yourself. On your first day after giving birth, your nurse will help you get out of bed and walk. This will help relieve soreness and help with bowel movement. Don’t lift anything too heavy or do intense exercise and if possible, avoid using the stairs.
You might experience some discomfort with your incision. If this becomes too painful and is not controlled with the medication you are given, talk to your health care about pain medication.
If you had an episiotomy during your birth, you’ll want to make sure that the area with your stitches stays clean to avoid infection. Your health care providers can show you how to properly care for this area while you heal and your stitches are absorbed. If you’re experiencing some discomfort during recovery, you can use ice packs, sitz baths and anesthetic sprays to ease pain.
Bladder and Bowel Care
Changes in bladder and bowel movements after pregnancy are normal – your body has just experienced a lot of stress. You might urinate frequently as you expel extra fluids from your body, but it may take a few days for you to have a bowel movement postpartum. To help move your bowels, eat fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains or walk to stimulate movement.
Hemorrhoids are a very common with pregnancy and labor, and they take time to shrink and heal. To care for hemorrhoids postpartum, soak in a sitz bath two or three times a day to help ease pain and promote healing. Constipation can make hemorrhoids worse, but it can be avoided by eating healthy foods. If you are still experiencing pain, speak with your health care provider about management options.
You will bleed for the next several weeks after pregnancy as your uterus returns to normal. Bleeding may start off dark red and heavy, then may become lighter in color and flow as time passes. Your bleeding might increase while you are breastfeeding or when you become active after lying down for a while. After a month, your normal menstrual period may return or be delayed if you are breastfeeding.
Bleeding after birth is normal, but if you pass blood clots or have any concerns, let your health care provider know.
As your uterus heals and shrinks back to its original size, you might have cramps in your abdomen for about a week after delivery. If you’ve had a baby before and/or while you are breastfeeding, your cramps might be more intense. To help with pain, use a heating pad on your abdomen, empty your bladder often and take pain medication as prescribed by your provider.
Signs You Should Call Your Health Care Provider
Four to six weeks after birth, it’s important that you have a postpartum checkup with your doctor. Your body will go through many changes in that four- to six-week period, but contact your care provider if you see any of these symptoms before your appointment:
- Increased bleeding that is heavier than your normal period.
- Passing blood clots.
- Unusual abdominal pain or tenderness that is not uterine cramping.
- Burning, painful or frequent urination.
- Painful, red or hot areas on your breasts.
- Chills and a fever above 100 degrees.
- Vaginal discharge with a bad smell.
- Severe headaches and fainting.
If you have any questions about your health after your pregnancy, reach out to your health care provider.