After Delivery: At-Home Postnatal Care Guide for New Mothers
For most of your pregnancy, you spend your time and energy preparing for your due date. Many women research different methods of pain control, take birth classes and attend all doctor appointments to ensure the health of the baby in womb and during delivery.
However, many new moms can feel overwhelmed during the first few days home after being released from the hospital. They are still in recovery from delivery, and they also are adapting to having a new baby. This care guide can help you prepare for your needs at home during those first few days after your baby arrives.
Medications and Pain Management
Some labors and deliveries can be very straightforward. Others require a lot of intervention.
Even if you did not have any tearing, stitches, assistance or surgical procedures for your delivery, you can still feel sore and need some extra help beating the pain for a few days. If you have stitches or surgery, you should expect to remain on some sort of pain management plan for several days.
Your doctor will likely give you a prescription pain medication, but he or she may recommend spacing out these stronger pills with over-the-counter medications.
Other methods of pain management can also be effective. Witch hazel pads are very soothing for the vaginal area. Many hospitals can also provide a numbing spray to help ease the stinging feeling around vaginal tears or incisions. Hot and cold compresses help with muscle soreness, especially through the neck, back and shoulders.
Breastfeeding and Milk Supply
Another area that can be difficult for new mothers is figuring out breast feeding and regulating milk supply. Your milk supply will usually be meager until a few days after delivery. Then, milk may come in quite forcefully. It’s not unusual to feel a high level of discomfort when this occurs. These basic tips can help you with the primary learning curve of breastfeeding and supply:
- Feed often during the first few days. Your body produces milk based on demand. Even though you may not feel like you make much, the first few days show a demand to make more, and your body will respond.
- Get help from a lactation consultant. Getting your baby to latch properly from the beginning can reduce the discomfort of breastfeeding. A lactation consultant can also help diagnose feeding issues caused by tongue or lip ties or inverted nipples.
- Boost milk supply by staying hydrated and eating plenty of healthful foods.
- Relieve pressure when milk comes in by pumping off the excess. But don’t pump too much, or you’ll manufacture a demand. This excess at first can be helpful, however, if you are going back to work because you can freeze milk to use later.
- Place cold cabbage leaves on your breasts and take warm baths. These steps can help ease discomfort and tenderness when milk comes in.
- Massage hard areas in the breast. Even though it might be painful to do, massage helps prevent clogged ducts.
Talk to your doctor about concerns you have with breastfeeding. If you notice any flu symptoms or red streaks in the breast, contact your physician immediately, as these indicate a common infection known as mastitis.
Bathroom and Hygiene
After you deliver your baby, you can expect a fair amount of heavy bleeding for several days after birth. The bleeding may last weeks, but the amount gradually tapers off. Some women like to have heavier-duty absorbent pads or disposable undergarments to reduce mess.
It’s common for women to have trouble going to the bathroom for a few days after birth. Your doctor may give you a stool softener to help encourage a bowel movement. If you are still unable to go to the bathroom after several days have passed, you may need to visit the doctor to assess. Sometimes pain medications can cause constipation.
For more information about medical care following birth, contact us at Alafaya Woods Family Medical Center.