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Wilkerson Obstetrics and Gynecology

Raleigh Postpartum Care

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! This is an exciting and challenging time. Following delivery, you may find that you are experiencing many physical and emotional changes. We are providing this guide to help you better understand what to expect.

Postpartum 6-Week Appointment

It is requested that you schedule a postpartum check with your delivering physician for 6 weeks after your baby's birth. If you have concerns before this visit, you may contact the office for assistance.

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Vaginal Bleeding

Also known as lochia, vaginal bleeding will continue for 3-6 weeks following delivery, gradually slowing and becoming a thick yellow discharge before stopping altogether. Nothing should be placed in the vagina during this time - no tampons, sex, or douching. Call the office if your bleeding seems excessively heavy, requiring pad changes more than once an hour or with large clots.

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Perineal Care

It is common to feel soreness in the area around the vagina after delivery, especially if stitches were required to repair an episiotomy or tear. Any stitches placed will dissolve. Keep the area clean. Cold packs or topical anesthetic spray such as "Dermoplast" may be used for comfort. Sitz baths may also be used 2 to 3 times per day initially to promote healing. To do a sitz bath, sit in a tub with a few inches of plain warm water for 10-15 minutes.

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Pain Relief

Medication will be prescribed for you for pain relief upon discharge from the hospital. Additional medications for anemia, constipation or other discomforts may be recommended as well. For safety information regarding breastfeeding with any other medications, contact your pediatrician or our office.

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Post Cesarean Section Care

You may shower and clean the area around your incision with soap and water. Otherwise it should be kept dry. You may remove any remaining surgical tapes one week after you leave the hospital. It is recommended that you do not drive for 2 weeks after surgery and avoid heavy lifting for 4 weeks. Call the office if you notice fever, increased pain, redness around the incision, or significant incisional drainage.

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Activity / Diet

It is normal to experience fatigue, even exhaustion, in the weeks that follow your baby's arrival. Rest when you can and listen to what your body is telling you. You may resume a light exercise routine of walking within 4 weeks of your delivery. Avoid abdominal exercises until after your 6 week check up. Be careful not to skip meals and to continue to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day. We recommend that you continue taking prenatal vitamins at least until your 6 week visit and as long as you nurse your baby.

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Breast Care

If you do not plan to breastfeed, wear a firm, tight-fitting bra (sports bra), use ice packs and ibuprofen for engorgement pain, and do not express any milk from the breasts. You may try applying cabbage leaves to the breasts 2-3 times per day to decrease the milk supply. If you are breastfeeding, feed your baby on demand every 2-4 hours. Wear a supportive bra. Ice packs and warm showers may help reduce swelling. Appropriate positioning of the baby on the breast will help prevent nipple soreness. Rex Lactation Services (784-3224) is an excellent resource for breastfeeding difficulties encountered while you are in the hospital or at home. Localized breast tenderness or redness associated with a fever may be a sign of mastitis and is a reason to contact your physician.

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Constipation / Hemorrhoids

Try increasing your fluid intake as well as your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Stool softeners such as Colace and fiber supplements (Metamucil, Benefiber, etc) may be used according to package directions. For hemorrhoids, try Preparation H, Anusol cream, or chilled Tucks pads.

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Postpartum Blues and Depression

Motherhood can be overwhelming. New feelings of increased responsibility, frustration, anxiety, and sometimes loneliness or disappointment are common following delivery. Sleep deprivation may contribute to these feelings, and you may find yourself experiencing the "Baby Blues." However, if these symptoms last for more than 2 weeks, seem severe, or cause you to be unable to take care of yourself or the baby, depression may be present. Depression can become very serious and may require medical treatment. Talk with family and friends about how you are feeling and call your physician with any concerns. A support group meets at Rex Hospital for women experiencing anxiety or depression related to childbirth and motherhood. Contact Rex HealthNet at 784-4490 for more information.

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