Home Care Instructions for Mom

After discharge, you may discover that you still have questions about body changes, activity, and care during the next few weeks. The following information should be helpful in answering many of your questions.

ACTIVITY

  • Gradually resume your daily activities at home.

  • Allow time for rest periods during the day and nap while your newborn sleeps.

  • Avoid heavy lifting (more than 10 lb [4.5 kg]) and strenuous work or sports. Slow to moderate walking is usually safe.

  • If you had a cesarean delivery, do not vacuum, climb stairs, or drive a car for 4 to 6 weeks.

  • If you had a cesarean delivery, make arrangements for help at home until you feel you are okay to do your usual activities yourself.

  • Ask your caregiver for safe exercises to do after delivery, especially if you had a cesarean delivery.

VAGINAL FLOW AND RETURN OF YOUR MENSTRUAL PERIOD

  • Vaginal flow may continue for 4 to 6 weeks after delivery.

  • Usually the amount decreases and the color of blood gets lighter.

  • Bright red blood and an increased flow may reoccur if you have been too active.

  • Lie down, raise (elevate) your feet, place a cold compress on your lower abdomen, rest, and call your caregiver if you are soaking more than 1 pad an hour or passing large clots.

  • Menstrual periods will usually return 6 to 8 weeks after delivery.

  • If you are breastfeeding, your period will return anywhere from 8 weeks to the time you stop breastfeeding.

PERINEAL CARE

  • Use the peri bottle and change pads each time you go to the bathroom.

  • Use towelettes in place of toilet paper until stitches are healed.

  • Take warm tub baths for 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Continue to use medicated pads or pain relieving spray.

  • Lidocaine cream for episiotomy pain can be used with your caregiver's approval.

  • Do not use tampons or douches until vaginal bleeding has stopped (about 4 weeks).

  • Sexual intercourse should be avoided for at least 3 to 4 weeks after delivery or until the brownish-red vaginal flow is completely gone.

  • Wipe from front to back.

INCISION CARE (AFTER A CESAREAN DELIVERY)

  • Shower as desired. Try to keep your incision dry.

BOWELS AND HEMORRHOIDS

  • Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of non-caffeinated fluids per day.

  • Eat fiber-rich diet with whole grains, raw fruits, and vegetables.

  • Take frequent warm tub baths if hemorrhoids are a problem.

  • Avoid straining when having a bowel movement.

  • Over-the-counter medicines and stool softeners can be used as directed by your caregiver.

NUTRITION

  • Eat a well-balanced diet that includes the basic food groups.

  • Do not try to lose weight quickly by cutting back on calories.

  • If you are breastfeeding, drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of non-caffeinated fluid per day and increase your intake by 600 calories a day.

  • Take your prenatal vitamins until your postpartum checkup or until your caregiver tells you to stop.

BREASTFEEDING

If you are not breastfeeding:

  • Wear a good tight-fitting bra.

  • Limit fluid intake after 1 or 2 days after delivery, or as directed, if your breasts are becoming engorged.

  • Avoid nipple stimulation and apply cool (not icy cold) compresses to the breasts for comfort as needed.

  • Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated drinks.

  • Mild over-the-counter pain medication recommended by your caregiver is helpful for breast discomfort.

  • Medications to dry up breast milk are not recommended.

If you are breastfeeding:

  • Encourage your newborn to breastfeed if you think he or she is hungry.

  • Wash your hands before breastfeeding.

  • Clean your breasts with warm water before nursing.

  • Start to encourage feeding 8 to 12 times a day for 10 to 15 minutes on each breast in the beginning to help stimulate milk production and train your newborn.

  • Avoid water and formula supplements for your newborn unless otherwise directed.

  • Have your newborn seen by his or her caregiver 3 to 5 days after delivery and again at 2 to 3 weeks to evaluate his or her progress with breastfeeding.

  • Call your newborn's caregiver if you think he or she is not gaining weight or may be losing weight.

POSTPARTUM BLUES

Following delivery, your body goes through a drastic change in hormone levels. You may find yourself crying for no apparent reason and unable to cope with all the changes a newborn brings. Get support from your partner and friends. Give yourself time to adjust. If these feelings persist after several weeks, contact your caregiver or other professionals that can help you.

Call your local emergency department, go to the emergency room, or get help right away from a relative, friend, or neighbor if you feel you are about to harm yourself, your newborn, or anyone else.

EXERCISES

Start Kegel exercises right after delivery. You can do it while standing, sitting, or lying down. Tighten your stomach muscles and the muscles surrounding your birth canal. Hold for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat 5 times each time. Make Kegel exercises a part of your daily routine to maintain the muscle tone that supports your vagina, bladder, and bowels.

SELF BREAST EXAMINATION

  • Do breast self-exams at the same time of the month, each month.

  • Any lump, bump, or discharge should be reported to your caregiver.

  • Check your breasts, if you are breastfeeding, just after a feeding when your breasts are less full. If your period has started and you are breastfeeding, check your breasts on the fifth to seventh day of your period.

  • Breasts are normally lumpy if you are breastfeeding due to the fullness of the milk cells. This is temporary and not a health risk.

INTIMACY AND SEXUALITY

New parents need time to adjust to each other intimately and sexually after giving birth. Try to spend time as a couple discussing ways to adjust to your infant, your new schedule, and how to meet both your desires and needs. Counseling can be helpful in deeply troubled cases.

If you are breastfeeding or not yet having a menstrual period, you can get pregnant. Use some form of birth control to prevent getting pregnant. Talk to your caregiver about the birth control choices that are available to you for you situation.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Drainage increases from the Cesarean incision, episiotomy or tear site, or the drainage starts to smell bad.

  • You soak pads with blood in 1 hour or less.

  • You have severe lower abdominal pain or cramping.

  • You have a bad smelling vaginal discharge.

  • You have increased rather than decreased pain around stitches or swelling, redness, or hardness in area.

  • You have an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C), not controlled by medicine.

  • You have pain or redness in the calf of the leg.

  • You feel sick to your stomach (nausea) and throw up (vomit) for 12 hours.

  • You have sudden, severe chest pain.

  • You have shortness of breath.

  • You have painful or bloody urination.

  • You have visual problems.

  • You develop a severe headache.

  • An area of your breast is red and sore, and you have a fever. You may feel like you have flu symptoms.