First of all, Congratulations!

Now the hard part’s over, right? We certainly hope that your pregnancy, labor and delivery have gone smoothly, and we offer the following suggestions to help you get through the next several weeks as easily as possible.

Rest!

Nothing puts a better start on a day than a good night’s rest, and nothing keeps you up more than a newborn. Be a little selfish, and try to rest when the baby does. Let others help! Remember that they’ll get to sleep while you’re up with the new arrival.

Care of Stitches

If you have vaginal stitches these will dissolve on their own and need little additional care. Keep the area as clean as possible; warm sitz baths or tub soaks two to three times a day will ease some of the soreness. You may take a tub bath in one week. Cesarean section stitches will likewise dissolve over time. These wounds should be kept dry and clean. Steri-strips or Dermabond “glue” can be removed after two weeks if they haven’t come off on their own. You may shower or tub bathe after a C-section; just pat the wound dry afterward. No dressing or bandage is necessary.

Bleeding

Vaginal bleeding after your delivery will vary day to day but will be over for the most part by three to four weeks postpartum. Especially with breastfeeding, however, intermittent and unpredictable bleeding can occur, though this will usually not be very heavy or prolonged. You may use a tampon one week after delivery if you are not sore, but douching is not recommended. If you are breastfeeding, regular periods may not begin again until after weaning.

Breastfeeding

If you are breastfeeding, remember to drink lots of fluids to replace what is being used for making breast milk. The quantity of your milk may decrease if you are especially tired or dehydrated. Take your prenatal vitamins while you are nursing, and eat a well-balanced diet including plenty of calcium and protein.

If you have decided to bottlefeed, you should wear a very supportive bra day and night for at least the first week or until breast swelling has decreased. If painful engorgement occurs, ice packs can be helpful. Do not do anything to stimulate the breasts, such as expressing or pumping milk or even allowing the shower to strike them during bathing.

Constipation

This is a common problem in the postpartum period and should not be ignored.