Bringing Home Baby: Now That You’re No Longer Expecting
Returning home from the hospital with your baby safely restrained in a car seat can be both a relief and a stress storm. Here’s what you need to know about the range of physical and emotional changes related to C-section or vaginal birth processes you may experience.
“The six weeks following delivery is known as the postpartum period,” said Chinelo Echeazu, MD, with Memorial Physician Services, Women’s Healthcare. “Women experience many changes during this time period. If you ever have concerns, it’s important to speak with your doctor sooner rather than later.”
Common changes that occur during the postpartum period include:
- Vaginal bleeding or lochia. Panty liners or a sanitary napkin are needed when experiencing post-birth bleeding. This process will lessen over time, but can last for up to four weeks. If you have to change your pad frequently (every hour) or are passing large clots, contact your doctor.
- Perineum/perineal stitches. If you have stitches from a tear or an episiotomy, a surgical incision to enlarge the opening for the baby to pass through, they may take a few weeks to dissolve. Perineal cold packs can help with swelling, as well as topical pain relieving spray. Ask your OB/gyn or your nurse about these options while in the hospital.
- Cesarean incision. The incision will heal over a two-week period. Allow incision to dry completely before getting dressed, avoid baths (showers are okay) and keep incision clean and dry as possible. Talk with your doctor if you experience any signs of infection, like increased pain, redness or oozing from the incision.
- Post-birth contractions. Contractions will continue after you give birth to help the uterus return to its normal size. The pain may last for a few days and may increase while breastfeeding. Speak with your nurse or doctor about pain management techniques.
- Bladder and bowel function changes. Drink plenty of fluids after giving birth and empty your bladder frequently to avoid constipation or a urinary tract infection. If you experience pain or discomfort that is of concern to you, talk to your doctor.
- Swollen legs, feet and hands. Swelling occurs before and after pregnancy, but can be minimized by elevating your feet while sitting. However, avoid sitting for a long period of time – move and walk regularly after giving birth.
- Postpartum preeclampsia. This is a very serious condition. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms: headaches, stomach pain, nausea, visual changes, swelling hands and feet, sudden weight gain and high blood pressure. Postpartum preeclampsia occurs when a woman develops high blood pressure and other symptoms, usually within 48 hours. This can emerge up to six weeks post-delivery.
- Rest is so important. In the first two weeks following birth, limit your physical activity and sleep when your baby sleeps. Do not lift heavy objects
Have questions about postnatal care?
Speak with your doctor if you have questions or concerns. Memorial offers many classes at affiliate locations to help you throughout pregnancy and beyond:
- Memorial Medical Center Prenatal Classes
- Passavant Area Hospital Prenatal Classes
- Abraham Lincoln Memorial Prenatal Classes