You are going home after a vaginal birth. You may need help caring for yourself and your newborn. Talk to your partner, parents, in-laws, or friends.
You may have bleeding from your vagina for up to 6 weeks. Early on, you may pass some small clots when you first get up. Bleeding will slowly become less red, then pink, and then you will have more of a yellow or white discharge. The pink discharge is called lochia.
Bleeding usually decreases the most during the first week and may not stop completely for several weeks. It is not uncommon to have an increase in red bleeding around 7 to 14 days, when the scab forms over the spot where your placenta was shed.
Your menstrual period is likely to return in:
You may lose up to 20 pounds (9 kilograms) over the first 2 weeks after having your baby. After that, weight loss of around one-half pound (225 grams) per week is best. Your health care provider can explain more about losing weight after pregnancy.
Your uterus will be hard and round, and can most often be felt around the navel. You may feel contractions for a few days. They are most often mild, but can be stronger if you have already had several babies. Sometimes, they can feel like labor contractions.
If you are not breastfeeding, breast engorgement may continue for a few days.
You will need a follow-up appointment with your provider in 4 to 6 weeks.
Take tub baths or showers, using only plain water. Avoid bubble baths or oils.
Most women heal without problems, although it may take several weeks. Your stitches do not need to be removed. Your body will absorb them.
You can return to normal activities, such as light office work or house cleaning, and walking, when you feel ready. Wait 6 weeks before you:
To avoid constipation (hard stools):
Try eating smaller meals than normal and have healthy snacks in between.
Any hemorrhoids you develop should slowly decrease in size. Some may go away. Methods that may help your symptoms include:
Exercise can help your muscles and improve your energy level, but do not start until you feel ready. Increase the amount of exercise slowly. Get plenty of rest.
You can start sexual activity around 6 weeks after delivery, if the discharge or lochia has stopped.
Women who breastfeed may have a lower sex drive than normal, along with vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse. This is because breastfeeding lowers hormone levels. The same drop in hormones usually prevents your menstrual period from returning for many months.
During this time, use a lubricant and practice gentle sex. If sex is still difficult, talk with your provider. Your provider may recommend a hormone cream that can reduce your symptoms. These changes in your body are temporary. After you are done breastfeeding and your menstrual cycle returns, your sex drive and function should return to normal.
Talk with your provider about contraception after pregnancy. You may be able to get pregnant as soon as 4 weeks after having a baby. It is important to use effective contraception during this time.
In the days or even months after delivery, some moms feel sad, disappointed, tired, or withdrawn. Many of these feelings are normal, and they often will go away.
Pee often and drink plenty of fluids to avoid bladder infections.
Call your health care provider if you have vaginal bleeding that is:
Also call your provider if you have:
Katz VL. Postpartum care. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 22.
Last reviewed on: 11/21/2014
Reviewed by: Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.