Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Pregnancy Postpartum

Home care after delivery includes:

  • Avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. Try using an inflatable donut pad for support.
  • Avoid touching the area of the episiotomy as much as possible. Remember to pat the area dry after bathing. Avoid wiping back to front: this can spread bacteria to the healing episiotomy site and introduce infection.
  • Avoid sexual intercourse for at least 4 weeks after delivery.
    • Breast-feeding full time can be an effective method of birth control for up to 6 months after giving birth. If you stop breast-feeding, you may wish to discuss birth control options with your doctor.
    • Your menstrual periods may not resume for several months after delivery, especially during breast-feeding.
  • Change your sanitary pad at least once every 4 to 6 hours. This can reduce the risk of infection.
  • If pain is severe, try using ice packs to the area. Sleeping on your side with an ice pack between your legs may be more comfortable.
  • Try warm baths for 20 minutes at a time several times a day. Let the vaginal area dry well before covering.
  • Use pads, not tampons, for vaginal discharge. Take showers or tub baths in a clean tub.
  • Your doctor may suggest a squirt bottle that will allow you to squirt warm water over the vaginal area to clean yourself off after urinating.
    • Sometimes using the squirt bottle during urination can help to reduce pain associated with urination.
  • Learn proper breast feeding techniques.
  • If you have no problems, your doctor will want to see you for a checkup 2 to 6 weeks after delivery.

What else can you expect?
  • No periods:
    • It is normal not to have menstrual periods for 1-2 months after childbirth. If you are breastfeeding, menstrual periods may be delayed longer. Use birth control methods as directed by your doctor, since it may be difficult to determine when you first become fertile after a pregnancy.
  • Breast engorgement:
    • This peaks several days after delivery. Breastfeeding is the best treatment for this condition. Medications can be given to decrease milk production in mothers who are not breastfeeding.
  • Difficulty urinating and constipation:
    • Usually resolves within a week after delivery.
    • Stool softeners can help, particularly if you had an episiotomy or suffered a vaginal tear.
    • For hemorrhoids, take stool softeners and apply topical hemorrhoid medications
  • Increased frequency of urination:
    • After pregnancy, your body will naturally rid itself of excess fluid: you may urinate more than usual.
  • Mild contractions:
    • Some women may experience mild pelvic pain for several days. These are caused by contractions of the uterus as it returns to normal size. The pain may be more severe in women who nurse their babies. This is because nursing stimulates the release of a hormone that causes the uterus to shrink.
  • Vaginal bleeding and discharge:
    • Vaginal bleeding is normal for about 6 to 7 days following delivery. You may also pass occasional blood clots. This will eventually turn pink, and then yellow after several days. Vaginal discharge may last for 1 to 2 months following delivery.
  • Vaginal pain and numbness:
    • This will eventually go away by itself.
    • Prolonged sitting or walking may be more painful.
    • A significant amount of the pain may be due to the episiotomy. This pain usually lasts for less than a week, but in some cases may persist for several weeks.

Continue to Pregnancy Breastfeeding Diet

Last Updated: Nov 3, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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