Postpartum | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Postpartum

We understand that your needs don’t end after your baby arrives. Our team offers extensive postpartum support to make sure you are prepared for a healthy and happy transition from hospital to home.

In addition to addressing your physical needs after giving birth, we offer:

Though every woman’s recovery is unique, here’s an overview of what you might experience after childbirth.

Vaginal Soreness

If you had a vaginal tear or episiotomy, the wound might hurt for a few weeks. To ease discomfort while you’re healing:

  • Soak in a tub of warm water, called a sitz bath, a few times per day.
  • Sit on a pillow or padded ring.
  • Use a squeeze bottle to pour warm water on your perineum as you urinate.
  • Place a chilled witch hazel or Tucks pad between a sanitary napkin and the wound.
  • Talk to your doctor about using over-the-counter pain relievers or numbing spray, such as Lanacane.

Vaginal Bleeding

Vaginal bleeding is common after childbirth. The discharge will be heavy and red for the first few days. The flow should decrease and change to a pinkish-brown color before tapering off completely.

Contact your doctor if you have heavy vaginal bleeding, especially if it’s accompanied by pelvic pain, fever or tenderness in your lower abdomen.

Urinary Incontinence

Pregnancy and vaginal delivery can stretch your pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder. This might cause you to leak urine, especially when coughing, sneezing or laughing. The leaking usually improves within weeks, though it may persist. Doing Kegel exercises will help tone pelvic floor muscles and minimize leakage.

Hemorrhoids

Pain during bowel movements or swelling near your anus are common signs of hemorrhoids — swollen veins in the anus. To ease pain while hemorrhoids heal:

  • Apply over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream
  • Use witch hazel or Tucks pads
  • Soak in a tub of warm water a few times per day

Bowel Movements

It’s common for new moms to avoid having a bowel movement after a vaginal birth out of fear of pain or damaging the perineal area. However, avoiding bowel movements can lead to constipation, causing increased discomfort. Drink plenty of water and eat high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, to maintain regularity. Ask your doctor about a stool softener, if needed.

Cramps and Contractions

After birth, you may experience abdominal cramping — much like period cramps or mild contractions — as your uterus shrinks back to normal size. These contractions, sometimes called afterpains, also help prevent excessive bleeding by compressing blood vessels in the uterus. This is especially common during breastfeeding due to the release of the hormone oxytocin.

Cesarean Incision

If you had a cesarean birth (C-section), you likely will have soreness around the incision for several weeks. Your doctor may recommend a heating pad or over-the-counter pain relievers to ease discomfort. It’s also important to rest when possible and avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby.

Monitor your C-section incision for signs of infection. Contact your doctor if:

  • The incision is red, swollen or leaking fluid
  • You have a fever
  • You have severe or worsening pain
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