Caring for Yourself After Delivery

After delivery, you and your baby are going through many changes. This will continue for the days, weeks and months ahead. While it is an exciting, dynamic time of change and growth, it’s important that you take your healing seriously, one day at a time.

Immediately After Delivery

Pay attention to how you feel immediately after delivery. Vaginal bleeding or discharge can continue for up to six weeks after delivery.

In the first few days after delivery, the bleeding may be similar to a heavy menstrual period and you may pass some clots. It will be lighter in color and amount over time. Be sure to rest as much as possible.

Contractions or cramping of the uterus may happen right away and continue for several days after delivery. These after pains may reduce with ibuprofen, acetaminophen or other non-aspirin medications, including prescription pain medication.

Use Water to Clean and Hydrate

Keep the vaginal area clean with warm water, especially when you urinate or have a bowel movement. Warm water to the area helps reduce infection and promote the healing process. As always, wipe from front to back. Drink plenty of fluids or take a stool softener to keep your bowel movements soft to avoid straining.

You may take showers every day but full tub baths are not recommended until your bleeding has stopped.

Incision Care

If your delivery was by C-section, you may notice that the incision is swollen or bruised. Notify your health-care provider immediately if you notice an increase in redness, swelling, warmth, if bleeding or drainage occurs or if the incision opens up.

  • You can wash the incision gently with soap and water, using your hands. Rinse and pat dry and put a sanitary pad between your incision and underwear as needed for comfort.
  • Leave steri-strips on until they fall off.
  • Use your hands or a pillow to support your incision when moving or coughing.
  • Bend at the knees if you have to bend over to pick up items.
  • When recovering from a C-section delivery, do not drive for two weeks.

Sexual Relations

You should not have sexual relations after delivery until your bleeding has stopped and your stitches have healed completely. This may take three to six weeks.

Discuss birth control options with your health-care provider and use birth control as soon as you resume sexual relations. You can become pregnant shortly after delivery, even if you haven’t had a menstrual cycle or period.

Your Period

It may take weeks or months before your period returns. If you are not using hormonal birth control (prescribed by a health-care provider), it may take several months before your period is regulated. If you are breastfeeding, your period may not return until you stop nursing.