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After Delivery

Caring For Yourself

New moms need care following such a large bodily change.

Caring For Yourself

It’s all too easy to focus on your new child after birth, but new mom’s also need care following such a large bodily change. Our expert staff are on hand to help you deal with the aftereffects of giving birth and can advise on all aspects on staying healthy in the days and weeks that follow.

Some Things You May Experience

Bleeding after Birth

Similar to having your period; this vaginal bleeding after you have a baby is called lochia. You may notice more bleeding when you stand up after you have been lying down or when you are nursing your baby. Sometime after the first week, the bleeding will become thinner and turn light red to dark pink. By the second week, it will turn thicker and look yellow in color.

About four weeks after birth, the lochia will almost disappear

Lochia has a slight smell but should never smell foul or go back to a bright red color once it has turned lighter. If this happens or if you bleed and fill more than one pad an hour, call your healthcare provider. If you do too much activity, you may see more bleeding.

Afterbirth Pains

This happens when your uterus (womb) begins to go back to its normal size after your baby is born. It contracts (squeezes down) because it is a muscle. This squeezing is sometimes called an afterbirth pain. Some women say this pain feels like the cramping you feel when you have your period. These pains typically last no longer than two to three days. If this is not your first baby, these pains may be stronger than they were with your first baby. These cramps are a sign that your uterus is functioning properly.

Perineal Care

The perineum is the area between your vagina and rectum. You may have stitches and/or hemorrhoids in this area after you give birth. Hemorrhoids are caused by the weight of the baby’s head coming through the birth canal.

You can ease your discomfort and allow faster healing from stitches or haemorrhoids by keeping the perineum clean. Wash the area with soap and water:

  • First wash your hands.
  • Fill the plastic bottle we have given you with warm water.
  • While sitting on the toilet, squeeze the warm water over your perineum.
  • Pat yourself dry starting in the front to your back with clean toilet paper.
  • Put on a clean pad.
  • Wash your hands.

Sometimes we recommend using a sitz bath, which is a basin filled with warm water. This can be used 24 hours after you give birth. Fill the basin 2/3 full with warm water and sit, making sure that your perineum is in the water for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Do this at least three times each day until the area feels healed. Make sure you take your site bath home with you.

Use witch hazel pads to help soothe and clean the area. 

Place a witch hazel pad on your perineum and rectum after you clean your bottom and change your pad or you may place the witch hazel pads on your sanitary pad if this is easier for you.

A medicated spray to numb your perineum, can be used for the first few days. Follow the directions on the can. If there is an increase in swelling, pain and redness around your stitches, call your healthcare provider.


Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises are important to build up the pelvic floor muscles after you give birth (tighten the muscles in your perineum). These muscles stretch with pregnancy and birth. Keeping these muscles strong helps stop or lessen accidental loss of urine throughout your lifetime.

To do the exercise, tighten the same muscles that you would use to stop the flow of urine midstream. Hold these muscles tight for five to 10 seconds. Do this exercise 10 times in a row, three different times each day. This will give you benefits over your lifetime. (You could try once to stop the flow of urine while you are on the toilet but should not do this again and again as you do not want to keep concentrated urine in your bladder).


You may see that you are emptying your bladder a lot after delivery. This is how your body gets rid of extra fluid. Refer to your discharge instructions for signs/symptoms of a bladder infection.


It typically takes two to three days for your bowel movements to return to normal. Some mothers have short-term constipation and a full feeling or “gas.” You can help yourself by: – Drinking plenty of fluids – especially water. You need to drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water or fluid a day. – Eating fruits, vegetables and high-fibre cereals. – Emptying your bowels when you have the urge. Do not take a stool softener or laxative without asking your health care provider first. Call your health care provider if you are unable to have a bowel movement.


You can anticipate that your body will hold some fluid after you give birth. Your body carried extra fluid during your pregnancy. You most likely had IV fluids during your labor and birth as well. You may see some swelling in your legs. It is important to move around after birth and you should put your feet up whenever you are sitting. Drinking enough water will help your body to get rid of the extra fluid.

After Cesarean Birth

After your Cesarean birth or surgery (birth of the baby via an incision in your belly and uterus), you will have an incision (a cut) in the lower part of your belly. Some health care providers use staples to close the incision, others use stitches. If you have staples, make sure to call your health care provider for an appointment to have the staples taken out soon after you go home.

If your health care provider used stitches, they will go away on their own. Sometimes small narrow strips of tape, Steri-Strips may be put on the incision. If you have steri strips, they may be removed if they are falling off; you should remove them after 1 week if they have not come off on their own when you shower. As your skin around the incision heals, your incision may feel numb and itch, this is normal.

Incision Care

Wash gently with warm, soapy water. Rinse and pat dry every day. Let your incision get air at least three to four times a day. Look at your incision with a hand mirror. It should look dry and closed. Call your health care provider if you notice any of the following: 

  • Redness, swelling and/or notice the skin is warmer around the incision than other parts of your belly
  • You have a fever
  • More pain or tenderness around the area
  • Severe pain in your belly
  • Any drainage from the incision
  • Opening of the incision
Feeling about Cesarean Birth

Some women feel let down because they did not have a vaginal birth.

What is important is that you have done a remarkable task; you have given birth to a wonderful baby. If you do feel let down or are feeling sad, talk to your nurse or health care provider.

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