With the excitement and new responsibilities of caring for a little one, new mothers often forget about their own care during the postpartum period. Many changes, both physically and mentally, occur during this period, and it’s important for new mothers to use the time for recovery. Below are instructions and suggestions that can help serve as a reminder of things to do following the delivery of your baby.
You will need a lot of sleep and rest during the first weeks while your body and hormone levels get back to normal. Two naps a day or sleeping when your baby sleeps will help keep you from becoming run down. Also, if friends and relatives can help, have them help with the chores while you take care of the baby. Do not try to keep up with the housework; use these first weeks to rest. Finally, avoid trying to lift heavy objects, especially other children.
During this time, it’s important to eat three, well-balanced meals per day. If you are breastfeeding, eating properly will ensure that your baby is receiving all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. In addition, well-balanced meals will help to keep you full of energy. Generally, you will lose 10-12 lbs immediately after your delivery and another 5 lbs early in the postpartum period. It is best to wait until at least 6 weeks after delivery before you begin to diet. Allow you body to use this time to heal and return to its pre-pregnant state.
Continue taking your prenatal vitamins for three months after you deliver. If you are breastfeeding, continue taking prenatal vitamins throughout lactation and then for an additional three months.
- To help you regain your figure, a few exercises can be started on your first postpartum day: Kegel exercises, pelvic tilt, arm raising, abdominal breathing, and neck stretch partial sit-ups.
- Start slowly and gradually increase repetitions. Don’t push yourself beyond the point of exhaustion.
- Strenuous exercise, such as running or tennis, should be delayed until after the 4-6 week checkup.
- If you notice any discomfort or persistent changes in vaginal discharge, stop the exercises and contact the nurse on call.
- While recovering, move around in bed as often as you can; this will help to increase circulation to all parts of the body, including your incision.
- Initially movement will be uncomfortable, but it will decrease as the days go by. When you begin walking you may feel a pulling sensation at your incision; don’t worry, this is normal. Make sure that you stand tall.
- As with a vaginal delivery, the following exercises can be started on your first postpartum day: Kegel exercises, pelvic tilt, arm raising, abdominal breathing, and neck stretch partial sit-ups.
If you had a vaginal delivery, you can begin driving as soon as your “stitches” don’t pull or irritate you when pushing down on the accelerator. This is usually about 5-7 days after delivery.
If you had a Cesarean delivery, you can begin driving as soon as you are no longer taking pain medications, and you can apply the brake without a pulling sensation in your incision.
After you have seen the doctor for your first postpartum visit you can safely resume intercourse. If your bleeding has stopped and your episiotomy has healed you usually can resume intercourse. Let comfort be your guide and if anything is uncomfortable, don’t do it. You may need to use a water-soluble jelly for the first 6 weeks to 6 months to aid with decreased lubrication. During your first postpartum visit, it is always a good idea to discuss possible methods of contraception with your physician. If you decide to resume intercourse before your first postpartum visit, be sure to use contraceptives such as condoms and foams.
The postpartum check-up should be scheduled 4-6 weeks after delivery. Soon after leaving the hospital, call the office to schedule your postpartum visit. This will allow you to schedule at a time that is convenient for you. If you had a Cesarean delivery, you will need to schedule an appointment one week after delivery.
Call the office if:
- You have a temperature above 100° F.
- You have bright red bleeding or large blood clots.
- You are soaking through more than 8 pads per day.
- You notice that your vaginal discharge is foul-smelling.
- Your breasts develop red streaks, become very hard, or if your nipples become cracked.
- You have a burning sensation or pain with urination or have trouble urinating.
- You have leg pain, swelling, or red streaks going down your legs.
- You have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.