As your body recovers from pregnancy and birth, you may experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms. Remember to care for yourself as much as you care for your little one. Just take it one step at a time and ask for help when you need it, especially if you are feeling anxious or depressed.
Before you leave the hospital
It is important that you see your OB provider four to six weeks after your baby’s delivery or sooner if otherwise directed. It is probably best to have your appointment scheduled before you leave the hospital.
During the first few weeks after birth, while your uterus returns to its pre-birth state (over a six-week period), you may feel afterbirth pains or contractions, especially during nursing and after multiple pregnancies. Taking ibuprofen (Motrin) can be a big help, although some moms may need prescription medicine.
Bleeding and heart issues
It is normal to bleed after birth for about 4 – 6 weeks as your uterus returns to its regular size. The duration of bleeding is different for every woman, but if you are continuing to soak a large sanitary pad in less than an hour, or continue to have heavy bleeding after six weeks, contact your health care provider. But call your doctor right away if you experience hemorrhaging, or increased bleeding, passing large clots, lemon-sized or bigger or bleeding through one pad in an hour.
Also keep a look out for blood clots or heart problems. If you experience any chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or redness or a swollen leg that’s warm or painful to the touch, call your doctor immediately.
Preeclampsia is a very serious condition when women experience headaches (severe, persistent, dull ache) with or without visual changes like blurry vision, spots, flashes of light, or abdominal pain under right breast. In other instances, women experience eclampsia, which is when the new mother has a seizure. If you are worried that you may be experiencing any symptoms, please call your doctor right away.
Episiotomy/spontaneous tear healing
The healing process may take two to three weeks, but eventually, your stitches will dissolve, and you will be able to sit comfortably. Meanwhile, your care provider will give you a list of things you can do to encourage healing and soothe discomfort.
For the first few days (and sometimes weeks) after birth, some women find it hard to control urine. The culprit: damage to the base of the bladder, the pelvic floor muscles, and perineum. Try Kegel exercises to improve control. If the problem continues months after you deliver, call your doctor.
Put baby back to sleep
The incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) has dropped by almost one-half since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that parents place infants on their backs when sleeping. Other recommendations for preventing SIDS include:
- Place your baby on a firm mattress with a tight sheet cover.
- Remove all comforters, pillows, and other bulky bedding.
- Do not let your baby become too hot and overdress.
- Keep your baby in a smoke-free environment.
- If your baby stops breathing or turns blue, call 911.
During this time of adjustment, it’s normal to feel occasionally sad and overwhelmed. A few tears are not out of the ordinary and may last up to two weeks. But if you feel sad for more than two weeks, or if you have upsetting or disturbing thoughts, contact your doctor ASAP or the behavioral health number on the back of your card.
You may have an infection if:
- An incision that isn’t healing, feels warm, has redness, increased drainage, or has foul odor from an episiotomy or abdominal incision
- Increasing pain at the incision site
- Breast pain and swelling not relieved by feeding or pumping (mastitis)
- Fever of over 100.4 F
Many women have a normal pregnancy and delivery. But ALL women are at risk for complications after the birth. Being able to recognize the warning signs and when to seek medical care, can save the life of a new mother, your life. If you experience any symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. If you feel your life may be in danger, call 911.
We know that having a new baby is an exciting new change to your life. We hope this information is helpful so that you can be and stay healthy for your growing family.
Yours in good health,