What Should I Know About Being Postpartum?
Postpartum, or the "fourth trimester," refers to the period following childbirth. This phase is often marked by intense physiological and emotional changes. Physically, women experience gradual healing from childbirth, including lochia (post-birth bleeding), hormonal shifts, breast changes for breastfeeding, and possibly perineal soreness or C-section incision pain. Sleep deprivation is common due to newborn care. Hormonally driven mood swings are prevalent, sometimes leading to postpartum depression or anxiety.
Simultaneously, women navigate learning to care for their newborn, often experiencing immense joy along with exhaustion. This period is also a time of significant relationship adjustments, particularly for first-time parents. Postpartum care and support, including medical check-ups, lactation counseling, and mental health resources, can significantly aid this transition. Despite its challenges, the postpartum period is also a beautiful time of bonding and love between the new mother and baby. At Professionals For Women’s Health in Columbus, OH, we know this can be a difficult time, and we are here to help assist you through this time of change.
"This is the most wonderful place! Everyone is friendly and professional. I see Lindsay Randolph who is awesome and always make sure I get the best gyno care. I have to give a special shout out to Cathie who did my mammogram this last visit. This was year 11 for mammograms for me, and I always dread it because it is usually extremely uncomfortable and a bit painful. This time was completely painless. I don't know how she does it, but I will never schedule these with anyone else! I recommend anyone looking for new services for women's health absolutely visit Professionals for Women's Health."- W.S. / Google / Nov 07, 2020
"Everyone here was AWESOME!!! I went in for one thing and they ended up helping me out and we did my complete wellness exam. Cathie made the mammogram painless and quick. They were my doctors when I gave birth to my daughter 6 years ago and still just as professional today. Plus they were able to me quickly."- K.G. / Google / Oct 29, 2020
"I've always had great experiences here. Everyone has been supportive and authentic from the front office and nursing staff to Dr. Rahl. My recent onsite mammogram with Cathie was awesome - no pain or discomfort at all."- K.A. / Google / Oct 22, 2020
When you arrive home, it would be helpful if you limited your activities to taking care of the baby and delegate household chores, cooking, etc., to others for the first week. Limit trips up and down stairs and do so at a leisurely rate. You should not lift anything heavier than the baby the first week. You will require extra rest during the day for the first two weeks or so; therefore, morning and afternoon naps are suggested. You may resume riding in or driving a car when you feel comfortable.
Continue taking sitz baths three times a day for at least the first week. Tub bathing is permissible immediately postpartum if vaginal flow is not excessive.
Postpartum bleeding is called lochia and it can last as little as 2-3 weeks and as long as 6-8 weeks. In the hospital your discharge is bright red and heavy, however, by the time you go home it is usually more like your menses. The flow will continue to slow down once home and the color will go from bright red to pink, and eventually yellow-white. If your discharge turns back to red or increases in flow this is a sign that you are doing too much and need to rest. If you are saturating more than a pad in an hour or experiencing a lot of pain, you should call the office.
A certain amount of breast swelling is natural. We recommend an ace wrap bandage wrapped tightly around the breasts for 24 to 48 hours, until comfortable. You also may apply ice packs to breasts for 20 minutes, three to four times per day, for 24 to 48 hours. Avoid unnecessary direct stimulation of your breasts, such as hot showers, loose clothing and manipulation. Avoid excess intake unless advised otherwise.
A firm supportive nursing bra should be worn day and night. Avoid using soap directly on your nipples. Following a breastfeeding session, allow your nipple to air dry. The natural oil glands around the areola will keep the nipples soft and supple. Breast creams are not advised. Frequent feedings of 8 to 12 times in 24 hours help to prevent engorgement. Nipple soreness is expected for the first one to two weeks. If you experience any cracking or bleeding of the nipples, please call the office. Consultation with a lactation specialist available through our office.
Passing clots during the first two weeks postpartum is not uncommon. They can differ in size from the size of a pea to the size of a golf ball. If you are passing clots larger than golf balls or passing clots after two weeks postpartum, please call the office.
Try eating natural foods like prunes, prune juice, apple juice, apple cider, bran flakes or raisin bran. Increase your fluids, especially water. Avoid caffeine (colas, tea, coffee and chocolate). If a laxative is needed, take one ounce of Milk of Magnesia at bedtime.
A well-balanced diet is necessary for the healing process. For a lactating mother, the normal caloric requirement is 2,000 calories or more per day. Your diet should especially include foods high in protein, such as meat, cheese, dairy products and eggs. Drink plenty of liquids, especially if breastfeeding. Increasing your fluid intake can also help to avoid constipation.
Your stitches will dissolve on their own. Do not be alarmed by a sticking or pulling sensation in the vaginal area during this time; it is entirely normal. Comfort measures include sitz baths and a sensible and gradual increase in activity. You may take aspirin or Tylenol®, two tablets every three to four hours for discomfort.
You may begin exercising when the baby is one week old. If there is any pain with activity, you should stop. If you had a C-Section, avoid exercises involving direct use of the stomach muscles, such as sit-ups, etc., until your 4-week checkup. No running, jogging or aerobics until your 4-week exam.
To minimize discomfort, avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time. Take rest periods whenever possible during the day, lying on your left side with legs elevated on two pillows. Knee/chest position is also relieving and helpful. Do not allow yourself to become constipated. Drink plenty of liquids! Sitz baths will help and Preparation H® or Anusol HC® may be used. Support hose are recommended because they improve and increase circulation.
If your baby is bottle-fed, you will probably resume menstruation four to ten weeks from the time of delivery. If you are breastfeeding, you may, but probably will not, have a period 3 months or longer after delivery. The first period may be heavier than your normal flow.
Please call your pediatrician for all questions regarding your newborn or go to urgent care/Children’s Hospital for any healthcare concerns.
Your postpartum period may be filled with various different emotions and you will probably have 1-3 days of “Baby Blues”. However, if symptoms last longer than a week or are severe, please call for an appointment to discuss postpartum depression. Also, see postpartum depression under pregnancy on our website.
Intercourse is not advised for the first four weeks after delivery. After this, the healing may be sufficient, and discharge lessened enough to permit comfortable sexual relations. K-Y Jelly or Replens, products sold over the counter, are suggested as a lubricant since the vagina normally tends to be drier following delivery. Vaginal foam along with condoms should be used as a contraceptive until your four-week exam.
Remember: Breastfeeding is not a form of birth control.
Take your temperature once daily in the evening for the first week after delivery. Notify the office if it is 100 degrees or higher.
If breastfeeding, continue taking prenatal vitamins for three months after you have weaned the baby. If bottle-feeding, continue taking them for three months after delivery.
WHEN TO CALL
- If you are saturating more than a pad in an hour or experiencing a lot of pain with postpartum bleeding.
- If you are passing clots larger than golf balls or passing clots after two weeks postpartum.
- If symptoms of postpartum depression last longer than a week or are severe.
- If you experience any cracking or bleeding of the nipples.
Postpartum overview FAQs
What are some symptoms of postpartum depression?
Many signs you may have postpartum depression. Though "Baby Blues" only last a short period, postpartum depression can last much longer. Symptoms may include:
- A feeling of sadness or hopelessness that does not go away
- Loss of interest in activities that used to bring you joy
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Changes in sleep patterns or appetite
How much sleep do I need after giving birth?
You will likely be very tired after giving birth. It is important to get as much rest as possible and plan on sleeping when your baby sleeps. You may want to nap during the day and sleep for a solid eight hours each night. Call our team in Columbus, OH, if you have trouble falling or staying asleep. We can offer tips and help you get the rest you need.
What if I need additional help with postpartum care?
If you are feeling overwhelmed or need additional support, do not hesitate to reach out to a provider at Professionals for Women's Health. Our team members are highly trained and experienced in caring for new mothers. We can offer comprehensive resources, support, and information to get you through this challenging time.
Can I get pregnant during the postpartum period?
Yes. You may have heard that being newly postpartum or breastfeeding offers a "natural" method of birth control, but this is not true. It is possible to get pregnant again soon after giving birth. Once you have been cleared to safely resume sexual activity, it is important to use appropriate and recommended birth control methods if you wish to avoid becoming pregnant again.
How long am I considered postpartum after giving birth?
There is no technical definition for the end of the postpartum period, though it is generally accepted to be about 6-8 weeks after giving birth, at which time many side effects of pregnancy and childbirth will have resolved.
How can I speed up my postpartum recovery?
It is important to understand that your body has been through a significant amount of changes and, potentially, a major surgery in the case of C-section patients. With this in mind, postpartum mothers should allow their bodies plenty of time to rest and recover, slowly easing back into normal routines and activities. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep when possible, taking medications or supplements as directed, staying hydrated, and avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can help to boost your health and give your body the nutrients it needs to recover more efficiently.
Trusted Experts for Postpartum Care
At Professionals for Women's Health in Columbus, OH, we understand the complexities of the postpartum period. Our team offers comprehensive care because you shouldn't navigate this journey alone. We're here to support, guide, and uplift you as you adjust to life with your new little one. Join us today for an empowering and nurturing postpartum care experience tailored to meet your unique needs.