Vaginal Delivery

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Vaginal Delivery (Discharge Care) Care Guide

A vaginal delivery is the birth of your baby through your vagina (birth canal).


AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicines:

  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your primary healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider:

Most women need to return 6 weeks after a vaginal delivery. Ask about how to care for your wounds or stitches. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Activity:

Rest as much as possible. Try to keep all activities short. You may be able to do some exercise soon after you have your baby. Talk with your primary healthcare provider before you start exercising. If you work outside the home, ask when you can return to your job.

Kegel exercises:

Kegel exercises may help your vaginal and rectal muscles heal faster. You can do Kegel exercises by tightening and relaxing the muscles around your vagina. Kegel exercises help make the muscles stronger.

Breast care:

When your milk comes in, your breasts may feel full and hard. Ask how to care for your breasts, even if you are not breastfeeding.

Constipation:

Do not try to push the bowel movement out if it is too hard. High-fiber foods, extra liquids, and regular exercise can help you prevent constipation. Examples of high-fiber foods are fruit and bran. Prune juice and water are good liquids to drink. Regular exercise helps your digestive system work. You may also be told to take over-the-counter fiber and stool softener medicines. Take these items as directed.

Hemorrhoids:

Pregnancy can cause severe hemorrhoids. You may have rectal pain because of the hemorrhoids. Ask how to prevent or treat hemorrhoids.

Perineum care:

Your perineum is the area between your vagina and anus. Keep the area clean and dry to help it heal and to prevent infection. Wash the area gently with soap and water when you bathe or shower. Rinse your perineum with warm water when you use the toilet. Your primary healthcare provider may suggest you use a warm sitz bath to help decrease pain. A sitz bath is a bathtub or basin filled to hip level. Stay in the sitz bath for 20 to 30 minutes, or as directed.

Vaginal discharge:

You will have vaginal discharge, called lochia, after your delivery. The lochia is bright red the first day or two after the birth. By the fourth day, the amount decreases, and it turns red-brown. Use a sanitary pad rather than a tampon to prevent a vaginal infection. It is normal to have lochia up to 8 weeks after your baby is born.

Monthly periods:

Your period may start again within 7 to 12 weeks after your baby is born. If you are breastfeeding, it may take longer for your period to start again. You can still get pregnant again even though you do not have your monthly period. Talk with your primary healthcare provider about a birth control method that will be good for you if you do not want to get pregnant.

Mood changes:

Many new mothers have some kind of mood changes after delivery. Some of these changes occur because of lack of sleep, hormone changes, and caring for a new baby. Some mood changes can be more serious, such as postpartum depression. Talk with your primary healthcare provider if you feel unable to care for yourself or your baby.

Sexual activity:

You may need to avoid sex for 6 to 7 weeks after you have your baby. You may notice you have a decreased desire for sex, or sex may be painful. You may need to use a vaginal lubricant (gel) to help make sex more comfortable.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.

  • Your pain does not go away, or gets worse.

  • The skin between your vagina and rectum is swollen, warm, or red.

  • You have swollen, hard, or painful breasts.

  • You feel very sad or depressed.

  • You feel more tired than usual.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have sudden, large amounts of vaginal bleeding.

  • You have pus or yellow drainage coming from your vagina or wound.

  • You are urinating very little, or not at all.

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

  • You feel lightheaded, have sudden and worsening chest pain, or trouble breathing. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough, or you may cough up blood.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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