Congratulations, Mom. Welcome to the best job you’ll ever have. 

After nine months – not to mention a lifetime – of waiting, you did it! Your baby is finally in your arms. You’ve no doubt spent so much time thinking about this moment. But what about everything that comes next?

The first few weeks at home with your baby can be incredibly stressful. This is an enormous lifestyle change, and in addition to the emotional aftermath of childbirth, you have undergone a great deal of physical stress.

Your body has been through something incredibly intense – not just during childbirth, but throughout your entire pregnancy. It is common to wonder how long it takes to get back to normal, or when you can start re-incorporating physical activity back into your life.

These instructions are simple guidelines to help you through the initial period of transition from “mother-to-be” to “mommy.” We want you to take these few weeks and be good to yourself. After all, being healthy and well is the best gift you can give to your baby.

Vaginal Birth

Activity and Exercise

First week home: 

  • Limit activity to the care of yourself and your baby.
  • Try to get rest periods throughout the day.
  • Avoid lifting anything heavy (greater than 25 pounds).
  • Minimal stair climbing is okay.

Second week home:

  • Gradually increase activity (including exercise).

NOTE: Cut back activities if you feel discomfort. Do not be alarmed if your flow increases with activity even though bleeding may have already slowed. 

NOTE: Driving may be resumed when it can be done comfortably.

Third - Sixth week home:

  • May start minimal exercise such as walking, leg lifts, sit-ups. No strenuous exercise, no heavy lifting, moving furniture or vacuuming for six weeks. 
  • Most employers expect you will be off work six weeks postpartum.

Medications

Prenatal vitamins: Daily if nursing or as directed by your physician. NOTE: If blood count is good, one tablet daily is sufficient.

Pain medicine: Your physician may prescribe an analgesic if necessary, but usually Tylenol or Motrin is sufficient. NOTE: Be sure to consult with your physician about other medications you may be taking.

Personal Hygiene

Vaginal flow: The first few days after delivery, flow is bright red. The amount of flow gradually decreases and by approximately four to six weeks, usually has stopped. When you are very active at home, it may increase and/or continue longer.

  • Change sanitary pad frequently to avoid infection. 
  • Do not douche or use tampons for at least six weeks.

Continue to take sitz baths at home as needed. You may take either a shower or tub bath.

Treatment of Common Problems

Hemorrhoids

  • Can use over the counter preparations (i.e. Tucks, Preparation H or Hydrocortisone cream).
  • Avoid constipation.
  • If progressively worsens, call your doctor’s office.

Constipation

  • Keep drinking plenty of fluids, especially water.
  • Eat a well balanced diet with high fiber.
  • Try to get walking exercise daily when allowed.
  • Stool softeners may be suggested by physician (i.e., Dialose Plus, Milk of Magnesia or Metamucil).

Breast engorgement when not breastfeeding

  • This will pass in approximately three to five days.
  • Wear supportive bra day and night.
  • Apply ice packs to the sides of your breasts, approximately 10-15 minutes, three to four times daily.
  • Avoid breast stimulation. 
  • Keep fluid intake moderate.
  • May take Tylenol or aspirin for discomfort.
  • Firm, tender, red areas in the breast represent infection; call the office.

Episiotomy discomfort

  • Use Dermoplast spray as needed.
  • Soak in warm tub two to three times daily.

Bleeding

  • Normally, bleeding will slow in four to six weeks after delivery.
  • One day might be heavier than others and small clots may be present.
  • Large clots (two to three inches in diameter) and heavy bleeding are not normal. Call the office.

Fever

  • Fever postpartum could indicate infection in the breasts, urinary tract or uterus.
  • If fever greater than 100° F arises, call the office.

Sexual activity & contraception

  • This is something you will need to discuss with your physician. If you do not nurse, your period will probably begin in six to eight weeks after delivery.
  • The first period after delivery may be longer or shorter than your usual pattern.
  • If you are nursing, you may not menstruate for several months or for as long as breast feeding continues.
  • It is important for you to know that shortly after delivery, ovaries may resume normal function, which means you could get pregnant before you have a period. This is why it is extremely important for you to always use some type of contraception with intercourse (i.e. foam and condoms).
  • Your physician will discuss contraception methods with you upon discharge.

Cesarean Birth

Activity and Exercise

First week home:

Limit activity to the care of yourself and your baby.
NOTE: The help of friends or relatives certainly is beneficial the first week you are home.

Second week home:

You may cook and do dishes, but a rest period morning and afternoon is advisable. You also may begin exercising. 

Third week home:

  • Light housework.
  • You may climb up / down stairs, but should be limited
  • because it may cause fatigue.
  • Driving may be resumed.

NOTE: Cut back activities with discomfort and do not be alarmed if flow increases as activity does.

REMEMBER: It takes 6-8 weeks for the lining of the uterus to heal after delivery.

Fourth week home:

  • You should not be lifting heavy objects (greater than 25 pounds).
  • No intercourse at this time.

Incision Care

  • Instructed by nurse upon discharge.
  • Any increase in tenderness, redness or unusual color or drainage, call the office.
  • With normal healing of incision, you may experience some itching and/or numbness.

NOTE: Most employers expect you to be off six weeks postoperatively.

Medications

Prenatal vitamins: Daily if nursing or as directed by your physician.
NOTE: If blood count is good, one tablet daily is sufficient.

Pain medicine: You may take most pain medications safely, even if you are nursing. If antibiotics were administered in the hospital, you will need to complete the course of therapy at home.
NOTE: Be sure to take all the antibiotics prescribed so that infection will not occur.

Personal Hygiene

  • You may shower or tub bathe at home, but for the first three or four days at home, do not soak with water above the incision. You do not need to cover the incision while showering and you may wash it with soap and water. 
  • If strips of paper tape were left on the incision when you were discharged, they may be removed within 7-10 days.
  • Tampons should not be used for six weeks postpartum.

Treatment of Common Problems

  • If fever arises, call the office if greater than 100° F.
  • Bleeding heavier than a heavy menstrual period, call the office. 
  • A small amount of redness and discharge may occur from your incision, but larger areas of redness, increasing tenderness, excessive drainage, call the office.
  • Breast engorgement when not nursing. Firm, tender, red areas in the breasts represent infection; call the office.

Appointments

Vaginal Birth - Be sure to call the office within a few days for an appointment to be seen in six weeks. If any problems arise, please call our office to determine if you should be seen sooner. 

Cesarean Birth - Be sure to call the office before leaving the hospital for an appointment to be seen as instructed by your physician.