How do I care for myself at home after delivery?
The first month of having a newborn at home can be quite overwhelming. You might feel like all of your time is focused on caring for your newborn. But don't forget to take care of yourself. Your baby needs you to be as healthy as you can be.
- Rest whenever you can. Delivering a baby is hard work and you probably weren't able to sleep much in the hospital. The first few weeks after delivery are an important time for you to rest whenever you can. If possible, sleep or rest when your baby sleeps. You should limit visitors for the first 2 weeks so you can rest and get breastfeeding well established.
- Do not lift anything heavier than your baby, especially if you have had a cesarean section.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Let family and friends know they can help by cooking meals, helping with laundry or other household chores, babysitting siblings, or stopping at the store to pick up a few items for you.
- Wash your hands often, especially after each visit to the bathroom, after diaper changes, and before feeding your baby.
- Limit stair climbing as much as possible for the first week after delivery.
- Do not try to be a perfectionist. This is not the time when your house is going to be perfect. Remember visitors are coming to see your baby, not your house.
- Keep your baby's care simple. Your baby does not need a bath every day. Just wipe off baby's hands, face, and diaper area daily.
- Recognize when you need professional help. If you are feeling anxious most of the time, can't sleep, or have been feeling "blue" for more than 2 weeks, call your doctor.
How do I keep myself physically healthy?
- Within 1 week after delivery, make an appointment with your obstetric provider for a follow-up visit. Your healthcare provider generally will schedule a follow-up visit within 4 to 6 weeks after delivery. Some healthcare providers might want to see you sooner, such as 2 weeks after delivery.
- Continue to do perineal care, as advised by your healthcare provider, until you see your healthcare provider at your first check-up.
- Wait to have intercourse until after your first check-up. Your healthcare provider will tell you that it's OK to have sex again when your perineum area has healed (or the abdominal scar from a cesarean delivery has healed), and when postpartum bleeding and discharge is minimal.
- Be sure to discuss birth control options with your healthcare provider during your first postpartum check-up, if you haven't already discussed this before delivery. Even though you might not menstruate while breastfeeding, you can still get pregnant.
- Do not douche or use tampons until your first check-up 4 to 6 weeks after delivery.
- Continue taking your prenatal vitamins every day. If you run out of prenatal vitamins, take a multi-vitamin containing iron.
- Eat healthy meals every day. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Take a walk and get out of the house for a break. Talk with your healthcare provider about when you can safely begin an exercise program.
- Drink 8 large glasses of fluid each day. Water, juice, and milk are good choices.