Taking care of yourself means you’re more likely to have all the energy and enthusiasm it takes to care for your baby. Make sure you schedule an appointment to see your doctor for a “postpartum” checkup. This appointment should be between two to six weeks after your baby is born. If you have questions or problems before then, call your doctor.
Sore breasts or engorgement. Several days after delivery, your breasts may become heavy, swollen and tender. This means your breasts are overfull or engorged with milk. You also may have a low-grade fever.
If you are breastfeeding, nurse your baby or use a breast pump to express milk. You also may want to apply cold washcloths or ice packs to your breasts, or take a warm bath or shower. Over-the-counter pain relievers may help, too.
If you’re not breastfeeding, wear a firm, supportive bra. Compressing your breasts will help stop milk production. In the meantime, don’t pump your breasts or express milk because this will signal your breast to produce more milk.
Leaky breasts. Wearing absorbent nursing pads inside your bra can help keep your clothing dry. Avoid pads that are lined or backed with plastic, which can irritate your nipples. Change pads after each feeding.
Constipation. Your first bowel movement after birth may take a couple of days. Hemorrhoids you developed during pregnancy, healing episiotomies and sore muscles may make it a painful event.
Hemorrhoids. These are veins in the anus or lower rectum that were stretched and swollen during labor and delivery. Your doctor can recommend a topical hemorrhoid medication.
Episiotomy. If the skin between your vagina and anus was cut by your doctor or if it was torn during birth, the stitches may make it painful to sit or walk for a little while. As it is healing, it may also be painful when you cough, sneeze or laugh.
Urinary or fecal incontinence. This means you may accidently pass urine when you cough, laugh, or strain or find it difficult to control your bowel movements. Get those muscles back in shape by doing your Kegel exercises. If you continue having trouble controlling bowel movements, call your doctor.
Vaginal discharge. At first you may have a bloody discharge that could be heavier than your period and may contain clots. This bloody vaginal discharge will gradually fade to white or yellow and then stop completely within two months. To reduce the risk of infection, use sanitary pads rather than tampons.
Weight. Eating healthy and getting regular exercise will help you gradually regain your pre-pregnancy figure. Do your Kegels, but wait until you have completely stopped bleeding before swimming or taking extended walks.
Recovery from Cesarean section (C-section). If you had a C-section, it may take longer for you to recover, because surgery requires a longer healing time.
Your doctor will tell you about things you shouldn’t do and give you directions for bathing, how to begin gentle exercises to speed recovery and how to help avoid constipation.