It usually takes 6-8 weeks after you have the baby until your body has completely returned to normal. Recovery is a progressive process, and you will feel stronger every day.
The kind of delivery you have had and how you are getting along will determine how long you will have to remain in the hospital.
If you have a vaginal delivery without any problems, you will most likely be dismissed 12-24 hours after the baby is born.
If you have a C-section, you will stay in the hospital for about 36 hours. When you have a C-section, staples are put in your abdomen to close the incision and may not be taken out before you leave the hospital. They should be removed 2-5 days after your C-section. Please call Women’s Care to schedule an appointment to have them taken out.
You will be allowed out of bed soon after delivery. When you have a private room, the father of the baby or someone close to you may stay with you in your room until you are dismissed. The baby will also stay with you in your room.
Wesley has visiting hours and will allow other people to visit you. It is best to request friends or relatives with colds, flu, or other contagious diseases not to visit you until they are better.
Your uterus is empty of the baby and placenta (afterbirth) immediately after delivery, but you will notice that it is not as flat as before you became pregnant. It will take about 6 weeks for you uterus to return to its original non-pregnant size. You may feel contractions (afterpains) for several days as the uterus returns to its normal size. They may feel like menstrual cramps, and may be more noticeable if you are breastfeeding.
Diet after delivery
It is important to continue eating a healthy diet after your delivery so your body can heal and return to normal. Women who are breastfeeding will need 500 more calories and more fluids than those who do not breastfeed. You can get these calories by drinking another 2 glasses of milk and eating an extra protein (meat) food and another fruit or vegetable. Breastfeeding mothers should continue the prenatal vitamins as long as breastfeeding is continued.
Care of your stitches
Episiotomies are not routinely done on everyone today. However if you have any stitches, the nurses in the hospital will show you how to keep this area clean to help it heal faster. This should be continued until the stitches are healed. Taking a warm bath and soaking for 20 minutes will make the stitches feel better. Do not use any bubble bath or bath oils. You may do this several times a day if needed. Clean the stitches after urination and bowel movements.
If you choose to breastfeed
If you breastfeed, you will want to use a nursing bra for convenience and support. Your breasts will be much larger and heavier because they are filled with milk.
A liquid called colostrum will come from your nipples the first few days. This fluid has many nutrients that are very nourishing for the baby. Colostrum also contains antibodies that will help protect the baby from some infections. True breast milk comes in about 3-5 days after the baby is born.
Medications you take can be passed to your baby through the breast milk. If you need medication, please notify your baby’s health care provider before taking.
Some facts to consider about breast feeding
- Breastfeeding contributes to your health by stimulating the contraction of your uterus to its non-pregnant size and position.
- Mother’s milk is made especially for babies and is more easily digested.
- Your baby will receive protection from some diseases through the breast milk.
- Breasted babies have fewer respiratory infections and asthma problems.
- Breastfed babies have less problems with constipation.
- Breastfeeding is economical. You do not have to buy any special formulas.
- Because you do not have to prepare formula, breastfeeding saves you time.
- Breastfeeding provides the most intimate way a mother can care for her baby and initiates a very close and loving relationship.
- Eat a nutritious diet while breastfeeding to nourish the baby and protect yourself. An additional 500 calories are needed each day. These calories can be obtained by having an extra 1-2 glasses of milk, a peanut butter sandwich, and a piece of fruit.
- Continue to take your prenatal vitamins as long as you are breastfeeding.
- If you work outside the home, you can pump the milk from your breast to put in bottles and take to the baby sitter. Breast milk can also be frozen.
- You must do the feeding of the baby, However, if you pump your breast, other can help you feed the baby.
If you have decided that you would like to breastfeed, here are some things to remember:
- It is very important to support your breast with a good firm supporting bra. When you are breast feeding, wear your bray day and night. You will be more comfortable. You will need to have 3-4 good nursing bras.
- You will also need some nursing pads to put in your bra to soak up the extra milk that may leak from your nipples.
- When you breastfeed, nurse the baby on each breast for ten minutes at each feeding. At the next feeding, begin with the breast you used last. Fasten a safety pin to the bra and strap of the side used last. This will help you remember which side to begin on next time.
If you choose not to breastfeed, you may notice the milk coming in your breasts in 3-5 days after delivery. Due to the bad side effects, we do not prescribe medication to dry up the breast. Your body will do this naturally.
There are several things you can do to help.
- Wear a good supporting, tight bra 24 hours a day.
- Drink less fluid for a couple of days
- Do not stimulate your breasts! Your body will just make more milk and it will take longer for the milk to dry up. Do not express out, pump the milk, or let the baby breastfeed. Avoid standing under a hot shower or soaking in a hot bath until the fullness is gone.
- Use a mild soap and water to wash your breasts, and pat them dry instead of rubbing them.
- Ice packs applied to your breasts for 20-30 minutes every two hours will make your breasts feel better.
- The pain medication you are given will help. Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen may also help with the discomfort.
- If you have questions, please call Women’s Care.
Infant formula is the best choice if you do not breast feed. It is best to keep the baby on formula for the whole first year. Babies have a very delicate digestive system. Infant formulas are made as close to breast milk as possible so there is a balance of nutrients. Cow’s milk is very difficult for babies less than one year old to digest. Your baby may have stomach or allergy problems if you start cow’s milk too soon. Ask the baby’s health care provider when to start cow’s milk.
When you choose to bottle feed you must properly prepare your baby’s formula. Check with the baby’s health care provider about the type of formula best for the baby.
Before feeding the baby, remove the formula from the refrigerator, and place it in a pan of warm water for a few minutes to warm the formula. Wash your hands before feeding the baby. Pick a comfortable chair to sit in while feeding your baby, such as a rocking chair. Hold your baby so both of you enjoy each other during the feeding. Never prop your baby’s bottle in the mouth, your baby could choke. When you bottle feed your baby, others can help and get the enjoyment also.
Want that figure back?
When you are resting in bed, lie flat on your back and touch your chin to your chest periodically. “Is this exercise?” You bet it is! It is the starting point to tightening up those abdominal muscles that have been stretched for nine months. Keep at it! You will be surprised how much this helps go get you back in shape!
As the soreness in your pelvis area begins to decrease, tighten the muscles in your hips and pull your rectum up as if you were trying to stop a bowel movement. Kegel exercise are also good to do now.
After you baby is about 1-2 weeks old, you can start this exercise to help flatten your tummy. Lie on your back, raise your head and shoulders to a sitting position. Lie back down. Raise your legs one at a time without moving your head and shoulders, then let them down slow and easy.
These exercises can prevent chronic backache and help return your uterus to its normal position. These exercises plus a good diet and an aerobic exercise such as walking 45 minutes 5 days a week, will help you to shape up again! Now is the best time to lose the extra pounds you have gained during pregnancy.
Common problems after delivery
Constipation is common the first few weeks after delivery. Make sure your diet has plenty of liquids, fresh fruits, vegetables, and a high fiber cereal. You may need a stool softener or milk laxative, such as Milk of Magnesia, for short term use. Do not use harsh laxatives, such as Ex-Lax or Correctol, especially if you are breastfeeding.
Please call Women’s Care if you have questions. We can advise what is best for you.
Your first menstrual period after delivery
Most women will have menstrual period within 6-8 weeks after delivery if they are not breastfeeding. This varies with each woman. The first period may be longer or shorter than usual. Your periods should return to a normal pattern after a few months.
If you are breastfeeding, you may not have a period for 5-7 months. If you do, however, it will not affect your breastfeeding.
REMEMBER: Whether bottle or breastfeeding, your ovaries usually resume their normal function soon after delivery, and you can become pregnant. It is very important to use some type of contraception whether you are a bottle or breastfeeding.
After delivery you will have some vaginal bleeding. Although it changes in color and consistency, it may last up to 6 weeks. This is called lochia. The first few days it will be red like a menstrual flow. By the end of the first week it may decrease in amount and change to a brownish color. A few weeks later it will be yellowish-white. If the discharge from your vagina has an unusual foul odor if you are running a fever of 100.4 or more call Women’s Care.
Feeling tired after delivery?
Since your baby’s birth, your body has been changing. It will take one to two months for your body to return to normal. During this time, it is important for you to take good care of yourself so that you can be your best self again!
Rest at least 30-40 minutes in the morning and afternoon while your baby sleeps. Lie down even if you cannot go to sleep. Remember your baby will be waking up during the night. You might want to consider going to bed early and take rest periods during the day for the first two weeks at home.
You can start doing light housework after the first week. Have someone help you around the house as much as possible. Heavy housework and lifting must not be done for at least 3 weeks. Increase your activities as you feel stronger.
Can you take a shower?.....a bath?.....wash your hair?
You can wash your hair as soon as you feel strong enough! In spite of all the old tales, it is a proven fact that a daily shower or bath makes you feel better all day. It provides relief for an aching, sore bottom, as well as keeping you clean and in good spirits. It will wash the stitches clean, relieving soreness, swelling, and preventing infection
It is important to gently wash the perineal area with a mild soap and water. Pat dry from the front to the back. Until healed, always wash your perineum after you have a bowel movement. Use the squirt bottle that was sent home from the hospital with you. This will also help to remove the vaginal discharge and will help prevent an infection. A warm bath will help relieve the tightness and soreness of the stitches. For this reason, you may want to bathe 2-3 times a day. As mentioned before, remember to pat yourself dry from the front to back.
To allow your body enough time to heal and return to normal, it is best to wait 6 weeks after your delivery to have sexual intercourse. Infection can occur in the uterus or elsewhere in the body after delivery. When it does happen, it can be very serious if not taken care of immediately.
For these reasons, there are certain precautions you should take until after your 6 weeks check –up:
- Do not douche or use tampons.
- Do not have sexual intercourse, it can cause an infection.
- Clean the perineal area well.
Symptoms of infection
If you notice any of the following symptoms, call Women’s Care immediately:
- Chills or fever: It is important to use a thermometer to determine your temperature, if your temperature is over 100.4, call Women’s Care immediately.
- Foul smelling discharge.
- Increased or heavy vaginal bleeding, large blood clots, or passage of any tissue from the vagina.
- Burning with urination.
- Any warm red, tender area, particularly on your legs or breasts.
- Severe abdominal pain.
- When in doubt, call Women’s Care
Contraception (birth control)
For your health and your future children, it is advisable not to have your children too close together. Spacing children at least 18-24 months apart is best.
Your health care provider should have discussed contraception with you during your pregnancy. Women’s Care has videos and reading material to help you decide which method is best for you. Some of the choices available are birth control pills, Depo Provera shot, diaphragm, Implanon, tubal ligation, or barrier (foam and condoms) contraception.
Birth control pills can be started the third Sunday after your delivery. Let the doctor know if you need a prescription before leaving the hospital.
If you choose to get the Depo Provera® shot, you may receive this before leaving the hospital or within 5 days after delivery. However, if you are breastfeeding, you will not need the shot until your six week check-up.
A diaphragm can be fitted for you at your six week check-up. Spermicidal jelly must always be used with the diaphragm. If you used a diaphragm before you got pregnant, it must be refitted after delivery to ensure adequate protection against pregnancy.
The Implanon® can be inserted with your first period. Call Women’s Care the first day of your period if you are interested in a Implanon.
To practice SAFE SEX always use condoms unless you and your partner have been in a monogamous relationship for a long time. Condoms can protect you and your partner from being exposed to the HIV virus and other sexually transmitted diseases. Spermicide cream or jelly can also kill bacteria and protect against unwanted pregnancy. We recommend that you use both condoms and spermicide.
If you now have all of the children you will ever want, a tubal ligation can be done. You must be at least 21 years old. Please discuss this with your health care provider if you think you want a tubal ligation.
Discuss birth control with your health care provider to arrive at the best choice for you. Whatever method you choose, we will work with you to make sure you are pleased with your decision and feel confident in it.
“Baby Blues” or postpartum depression
Having a baby is supposed to be a happy time! Right? Often new mothers will feel sad, afraid, unhappy, cry a lot, or have trouble sleeping. This is usually due to the hormonal changes that occur in your body after having the baby. This is called “Baby Blues” and should not last for more than 2 weeks. You can help by taking time for yourself. Do not try to do everything, but ask someone for help. Get out of the house for short period of time. Take a walk with a friend.
If the feelings do not go away in 2 weeks or get worse, this could be a sign of a more serious condition called “Postpartum Depression.” About 10% of women will experience postpartum depression. These risk factors are as follows: 1) having postpartum depression after a previous delivery, 2) experiencing recent stressful events such as divorce or death of a loved one, or 3) having a history of mental illness.
If you experience any of the following signs, please call Women’s Care immediately:
- Baby blues that do not go away after 2 weeks or get stronger.
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, doubt, guilt that keep you from your normal daily activities.
- Difficulty sleeping or wanting to sleep all of the time.
- A noticeable change in your appetite. You never want to eat or you want to eat all of the time.
- Loss of pleasure in the things that previously made you happy.
- Anxiety or panic attacks.
- Loss of interest in your baby or extreme worry or concern about the baby.
- Fear of harming the baby.
- Thoughts of harming yourself.
There is help for women experiencing these feelings. Call Women’s Care for help.
Postpartum examination (6 week check-up)
After you are dismissed from the hospital, you need to call Women’s Care and make an appointment for your check-up at 6 weeks after your delivery or as you have been instructed. If you had special problems after delivery, or if you had a C-section, you will be instructed to return for a check-up sooner than 6 weeks.
It is important to return for your postpartum examination to make sure that you are back to your normal non-pregnant state now. We can then release you to all your normal activities, including returning to work.
What you should know about… depression beyond “The Blues”
Everyone feels sad or encounters “the blues” now and then. But if these feelings become so troubling that they prevent you or a loved one from enjoying life or carrying out day-to-day activities, the blues may actually be depression.
Depression occurs because of the imbalances in the chemistry of the brain. Sometimes the imbalances are made worse by sad or traumatic life experiences; other times imbalances occur for no identifiable reason.
As many as one in eight individuals may require treatment for depression during their lifetime. Depression is seen in people of all ages, and twice as often in women as in men. Some people experience depression at certain times or in situations that remind them of an earlier loss. Often the condition goes unnoticed until a problem arises, such as malnutrition or even a suicide attempt. Recognize and treating depression early can help speed recovery and reduce recurrences.
The signs of depression are similar across all ages and ethnic groups. Clues to depression may include such spoken or unspoken thoughts as, “Pretty soon you won’t have to worry about me.” Or “Life isn’t worth living.” Unspoken signals that a loved one may be depressed and thinking about suicide may include paying off debts, making or changing a will, giving belongings away, neglecting personal care, using drugs or alcohol to excess, and collecting prescription drugs, and withdrawing from others. If you notice one or more of these behaviors in a loved one, immediately consult a mental healthcare professional.
Depression may accompany serious medical illnesses (especially stroke, cancer, and multiple sclerosis) or other mental disorders. It may also be caused by certain drugs. People who are likely to suffer from depression are those who previously had an episode of depression or who have family members who suffered from depression: those who have attempted suicide in the past; those younger than age 40 years; women who have recently given birth; and current substance abusers. Social factors including divorce, domestic violence, and the death of a child or spouse may trigger depression. Personality characteristics such as perfectionism, dependency, and self-criticism increase a person’s risk of becoming depressed.
Women who work outside the home can become depressed, feeling caught between the traditional role of women in society and a lack of support in the workplace. Imbalances in female hormones may also help explain the higher prevalence of depression in women.
Although undiagnosed. Some people are embarrassed by their depression, or mistakenly see it as a failing or personal weakness, so they do not ask for help.
Depression should not be confused with the sadness that we normally feel in response to losses or disappointments. These feelings do not last long, and should not keep a person from functioning. A sad or depressed mood is only one of the many signs and symptoms of depression. In fact, depressed people may be apathetic, anxious, or irritable rather than sad; they may experience memory loss or find it difficult to concentrate.
In teenagers, depression may hinge on the quality of the family relationship, especially the amount of support, attachment, and approval they feel they receive from their parents. In children, parents and clinicians must differentiate between behavioral problems, learning disabilities, substance abuse, eating disorders, and depression.
A medical professional will diagnose depression based on specific symptoms and how long those symptoms last. So it’s important for you to be honest with your healthcare provider. Depression is likely if any of the following symptoms are present most of the day and last longer than 2 weeks:
- Depressed mood and sadness—this can be irritability in children or adolescents—that lasts most of the day, every day
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities
- Significant weight loss of gain, or changes in appetite
- Changes in sleeping habits
- High or low activity level
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Recurrent thoughts of suicide
Children who are depressed may have expressionless eyes, a sad face, and slowed development. Social withdrawal, tearfulness, delinquency, attempts to run away, and poor school performance are also possible signs.
In older adults, symptoms may include feelings of helplessness, pessimism about the future, loss of self-esteem, frequent medical complaints, social withdrawal, loss of motivation and constipation. In the elderly, some of these features may be confused with dementia, disorientation, and memory loss. Many older people with depression have poor physical functioning and complain more about pain than non-depressed patients.
Suicide or attempted suicide is always a risk in depressed individuals, with the greatest risk in older adults; the elderly account for about one fourth of all reported suicides. Women are more likely than men to attempt suicide, but men are more likely to succeed. Although there are a number of “traditional” means adults may use to take their life, many attempt suicide using slower, less obvious ways. Some long-term tactics—not eating, not taking prescription drugs, drinking too much alcohol, delaying needed medical treatment, and taking physical risks—are not even included in suicide statistics.
Treatments for depression are effective and are often covered by medical insurance. These include psychotherapy, medication, and electroshock therapy, alone or in combination. Antidepressant medications seem to be the most promising treatment, but they can be expensive and some cannot be taken with drugs that are commonly prescribed for chronic diseases. Thus, older patients who take them may experience negative drug interaction or other adverse effects. Still, treatments are most successful when they are started early and taken conscientiously.
Risks and factors that contribute to depression
- Family history of depression
- Drug side effects
- Physical/terminal illness
- Hormonal imbalances
- Changes to brain from stroke or seizure
- Sense of loss of control over one’s life
- Previous suicide attempt
- Recent childbirth (postpartum depression)
- Death of a child or spouse
- Stigma of a mental health problem
- Financial difficulties
- Lack of meaningful social role
- Social isolation
- Alcohol abuse
- Domestic violence
- Major trauma
Ways to lift your mood
- Schedule a checkup with your clinician to rule out severe depression or another serious condition.
- Engage in moderate exercise, such as walking 15 to 20 minutes a day.
- Add lamps or light in your home.
- Keep light on during early morning and evening hours and on overcast days.
- Keep curtains and drapes open to let in natural light.
- On sunny days get outside as much as possible, or sit by a sunny window.
- Paint rooms bright, warm colors, such as yellow, peach, or pink.
- Put up colorful artwork or posters—perhaps from a travel agency.
- Wear bright colors.
- Take up a new interest or hobby.
- Get out when possible –to a store or the library.
- Plant spring flower bulbs (eg, crocuses, tulips, or violets) in a container and place them where you can watch them sprout and flower.
- Rent comical or “upbeat” movies.
Information Sources: For more information about depression, contact:
National Institute of Mental Health
Public Inquires Branch
5600 Fishers Ln #7C02
Rockville, MD 20857
American Psychiatric Association
Division of Public Affairs
1400 K St. NW
Washington, DC 2005
Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association
John Hopkins Hospital
Meyer 3-181, 600 N Wolfe St.
Baltimore, MD 21287-7381
Pelvic floor muscles and pelvic floor muscle exercises
The pelvic floor muscles are the major muscles of support for the pelvic floor.
They are attached to the symphysis pubis (pubic bone) and coccyx (tailbone).
They sometimes contract when you have a climax during sexual intercourse.
These muscles help prevent uterine, bladder, and rectal prolapsed and stress incontinence.
Why are these muscles important?
These muscles stretch and sometimes tear during childbirth.
Like our tummy or abdominal muscles, the pelvic floor muscles need to be exercised to remain strong. Without exercise the loss of muscle tone may lead to urine loss.
Loss of muscles tone decreases sexual enjoyment by decreasing the strength of contractions felt in the vaginal wall during climax.
How to do pelvic floor muscle exercises (or Kegel exercises)
These muscles go about ¾ of the way up into the vagina.
You can feel it by running your finger along your vaginal wall while tightening it.
Tighten the muscles, hold to a count of 10 and then relax to a count of 10. Do 15 exercises in the morning, 15 in the afternoon, and 20 at night. Another method is to exercise for 10 minutes 3 times a day. Set your kitchen timer for 10 minutes. Try to work up to 25-30 exercises at one time 3-4 times a day.
Do not tighten your tummy, buttock, or thigh muscles when doing the pelvic floor muscle exercises.
Check for correct movement by spreading your knees apart while urination and stopping the stream of urine.
It is important to do these pelvic floor muscle exercises every day for the rest of your life.
Give your kid an early head start!
No charge for eligible families which include: pregnant women and children 0-2 ½ years
- Parent-child classrooms
- Parent classes
- Parents support services
- Development screenings
- Limited transportation
- Job training
Call: 316-618-1678 8:00am-5:00pm
Wichita Public Schools: Parents as Teachers
Every child is born to learn. Being a parent is a challenging job! We can help you be your child’s first and most influential teacher!
From birth to 3-years old, a child learns more and at a much faster pace than at any other time in life.
Parents As Teachers (PAT) is a free USD 259 program (for those living within the district’s boundaries) designed to serve all parents from pregnancy until their child is a 5-years old and ready for kindergarten. Parents acquire knowledge and skills to make the most of these early-learning years, and children gain a solid foundation for school success.
By joining the program, you receive these services:
- Playgroups- an hour-long, interactive playtime for children and parents with lots of toys, books and signing at several locations throughout Wichita
- Informational Workshops Parent Meetings
- Bimonthly Parents As Teachers Newsletter—includes articles, upcoming events, meetings, and schedule of playgroup dates and times.
- A Connection to Community Resources for Parents
- Early Learning Room and the Parent Teacher Resource Center—make development activities and check out toys for use at home
- Personalized Home Visits—provides age-appropriate information (birth to 3 years) about your child’s development and screenings.
“Not only is Parents As Teachers an important tool in the upbringing of our children, it is also a great support system for parents. The information and skills that are presented by the Parent Educators are not only essential to the present and future education of our children, but also fundamental for my role of being a good parent.” Jennifer Clark, PAT Parent
To join or participate in any activity, please call 316-973-5160.