Helpful to have on hand:
- Menstrual pads or adult diapers
- Stool softener such as Miralax
- Witch hazel or Tucks pads
- Peri bottle for rinsing after urination
While your new baby will undoubtedly bring big changes to your life, after your delivery your body will go through many changes as well. The good news is most of these changes are temporary. Keep in mind the OB-GYN specialists at The Woman’s Health Pavilion in Queens and on Long Island are here for you. They have helped hundreds of women through these post-partum transitions and into the joys of motherhood.
To meet with a gynecologist or other experienced practitioner at one of our multiple offices in Queens or Long Island, request an appointment. We see patients 7 days a week and offer same-day appointments for urgent conditions.
If you have a vaginal delivery, expect your vaginal area to be sore, stretched, and possibly torn, especially the area between the vagina and anus called the perineum. You might have stitches.
To reduce discomfort and promote healing:
- Soak your stitches in a sitz bath.
- Sit on a pillow or an inflatable ring.
- Rinse with warm water using a peri bottle when you urinate.
Post-partum checkup: Typically 4-6 weeks after delivery.
Resume workouts: Within a few days of a routine delivery, you may start light walking and gradually increase the intensity with doctor approval.
Cause for concern: If you develop a fever/chills, increased bleeding, a tender abdomen, or if your vaginal area becomes hot, swollen, or shows other signs of infection, call our office right away.
Cesarean Section Delivery
A C-section is major surgery; therefore, you will need help from a caring adult for the first week or so. Simple movements such as standing, sitting, lying down will be a little uncomfortable at first. You may need help feeding your baby. If you breastfeed, it can be helpful to use a special breastfeeding pillow or to lie on your side.
Post-partum checkup: within 2 weeks after delivery.
Resume workouts: Light walking is advised as soon as you are able; hold off on strenuous activity for at least 4 to 8 weeks.
Cause for concern: If you develop a fever or chills, have heavy bleeding, or if your incision oozes, looks red or swollen, or becomes more painful, call our office right away.
Postpartum contractions of the uterus, also called after-pains, feel similar to menstrual cramps and are the body’s way of shrinking the uterus and minimizing bleeding. After-pains are typically stronger during breastfeeding. For the first few hours after delivery, a doctor or nurse will firmly massage your belly periodically to facilitate this process. After-pains are a bit uncomfortable, but are part of normal recovery after childbirth.
Vaginal discharge, called lochia, will start off as bright red for the first few days after delivery, then lighten from pink, to brown, to yellowish or clear. This process usually takes 2 to 6 weeks to complete as the uterus sheds its lining and heals. You should not use tampons for at least 6 weeks after delivery.
Tips for Healing
To minimize bleeding and promote the healing process:
- Take it easy by limiting activity to short, light walks. No strenuous housework, straining, or vigorous exercise until your doctor says it’s ok.
- Breastfeed your baby to release the hormone oxytocin, which slows bleeding by causing the uterus to contract.
- Avoid blood-thinners such as ibuprofen and aspirin, which promote bleeding.
- Empty your bladder frequently to minimize pressure on your uterus.
- Increase your iron intake to avoid anemia, which can make you feel tired and weak. In addition to supplements, good sources of iron include spinach, peas, black beans, red meat, and seafood. You should continue to take your prenatal vitamins for at least 6 weeks after delivery.
Your doctor may give you additional recommendations that are specific to you.
When to Call Us
We encourage you to call our office any time you have questions or need reassurance. Contact us right away if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Foul smelling discharge
- Fever or chills
- Large clots or saturated pads after your leave the hospital
- Irregular bleeding after 6 weeks
After delivery, your hormone levels will gradually decrease to their pre-pregnancy levels. This process takes a few weeks. Like menopause, it can cause hot flashes and episodes of profuse sweating during the night (“night sweats”). It is helpful to put a bath towel over your bottom sheet and have extras on hand for a quick change if needed.
The abundant hair you grew during pregnancy may be shed very quickly after delivery. Don’t be alarmed if you lose handfuls of hair after delivery. Usually, hair loss is not cosmetically noticeable, and hair growth returns to normal within a couple of months.
Emotional Ups & Downs
It is perfectly normal to experience emotional ups and downs after childbirth due to the stress of delivery, hormone changes, lack of sleep, and other factors. Be sure to get support from your partner, family, and friends. If feelings of depression are particularly severe or last longer than 2 weeks, be sure to call our office.
While it’s important to start breastfeeding right after delivery, for the first few days your breasts produce colostrum not milk. Colostrum is a thick, sticky, yellow/orange substance that provides your baby with ideal nutrition and protective antibodies. Within 3 to 5 days, most women start producing milk, which often makes the breasts very large, hard, swollen, and uncomfortable. Nursing relieves this breast discomfort, and is recommended for at least 6 months after delivery.
Getting Your Period Again
Most women who do not breastfeed resume menstruation approximately 6 weeks after delivery. If you are breastfeeding, you may not get your period regularly for several months.
You should not be sexually active for 6 weeks after delivery. Before initiating sexual activity, it’s important to consider birth control, even if you haven’t started getting your period yet. In the interest of your health and the health of your future pregnancies, it’s ideal to give your body a chance to recuperate for at least 9 months before conceiving again.