Postpartum is the period of time after the birth of your baby when your body is going back to normal. It lasts about 6 weeks or until your uterus returns to its normal size.
To relieve pain and prevent infection in the vaginal area, you can sit in a warm bath, put cloth-covered ice or cold packs on the area, or put warm water on the area with a squirt bottle or sponge. Also be sure to wipe yourself from the front to back after bowel movements to prevent infection. If sitting is uncomfortable, you may want to buy a doughnut-shaped pillow at the drugstore to help ease the pressure of sitting.
A nonprescription pain reliever may help. If you are breast-feeding, make sure you take a pain reliever that does not have aspirin in it.
If you had a normal delivery without any problems, you can get back to doing most of your normal activities right away. Try to avoid heavy lifting, vacuuming, and a lot of stair climbing for the first couple of weeks. If you have had a C-section, you will need to avoid heavy lifting for 6 weeks or as long as instructed by your healthcare provider.
Exercise is one of the best ways to lose weight, get more energy, relieve stress, and build your strength. Unless you had a C-section, difficult birth, or other pregnancy problem, you can usually start exercising as soon as you feel up to it. If you have had a C-section, you can usually start exercising in 6 weeks or when your healthcare provider says it is OK.
If you are not breast-feeding your baby, you may start having menstrual periods 3 to 10 weeks after delivery. If you are breast-feeding, there is no specific time when your periods will start again. It may not happen until after the first 6 months of breast-feeding, but it could happen earlier. Some women do not get their period again until they stop breast-feeding.
During birth, you lose about 12 to 14 pounds. However, this may still leave some weight to lose, depending on how much weight you gained during pregnancy. Losing this weight takes time. It takes most moms 8 to 12 months to get back to their normal weight. Losing the weight slowly is healthy and natural. The key is to eat healthy and exercise. After the first few months of eating right and exercising, you can begin a healthy weight-loss program if necessary. If you are breast-feeding, you should make sure you are still eating at least 1800 calories a day. Because breast-feeding uses a lot of calories, it usually helps women lose their pregnancy weight.
The number of weeks you should wait before having sex depends on your specific situation. If you had an episiotomy, you should wait at least 3 to 4 weeks for it to heal. If you had a C-section you should wait at least 4 weeks so your cuts can heal. Because it takes about 6 weeks for your uterus to get back to its normal size, many providers recommend that all moms wait a full 6 weeks. It is normal to feel uncomfortable at first when you start having sex again after childbirth, especially if you are breastfeeding.
Talk to your provider about methods of birth control you can use after the birth of your baby. The method that may be best for you depends on the type of delivery you had, how you are recovering, and if you are breast-feeding. Remember that you can get pregnant before you start having periods again.
Many physical and emotional changes happen when you are pregnant and after you give birth. These changes can leave you feeling sad, anxious, afraid, or confused. These feelings are called the baby blues and usually start right after the baby is born and go away within a week. However, for some women, these feelings do not go away and they may get worse. When this happens it is called postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can start right after the baby is born or weeks later. It can be a serious problem and needs treatment. If you feel depressed, talk to your healthcare provider.
Your provider will tell you when you need to return for a checkup. For a normal delivery, it is usually 4 to 6 weeks after delivery. If you had a C-section, your provider usually will want to see you 1 to 2 weeks after the birth of your baby and again at 6 weeks after the birth. A follow-up appointment may be scheduled sooner if there were any problems during your pregnancy, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Call your provider if:
You should get more detailed information and instructions about these possible problems when you leave the hospital after the birth of your baby.