Taking home a new baby is one of the happiest times in a woman's life. But it also presents both physical and emotional challenges.
- Get as much rest as possible. You may find that all you can do is eat, sleep, and care for your baby. And that is perfectly okay. You will have spotting or bleeding, like a menstrual period, off and on for up to six weeks.
- You might also have swelling in your legs and feet, feel constipated, have menstrual-like cramping. Even if you are not breastfeeding, you can have milk leaking from your nipples, and your breasts might feel full, tender, or uncomfortable.
- Follow your doctor's instructions on how much activity, like climbing stairs or walking, you can do for the next few weeks.
- Doctors usually recommend that you abstain from sexual intercourse for four to six weeks after birth.
In addition to physical changes, you may feel sad or have the "baby blues." If you are extremely sad or are unable to care for yourself or your baby, you might have a serious condition called postpartum depression.
Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health
Diagnosis and Tests
- Warning Signs After Birth (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation)
- Exercise After Pregnancy (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
- Mastitis (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Postpartum Blood Clots (Merck & Co., Inc.) Also in Spanish
- Postpartum Infections (Merck & Co., Inc.)
- Postpartum Sterilization (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) - PDF Also in Spanish
Statistics and Research
- Child Health USA 2013: Postpartum Visit and Well-Baby Care (Health Resources and Services Administration)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Shoulder stiffness, back pain, and wrist pain: Are older primiparas...
- Article: Women's Self-Reported Factors That Influence Their Postpartum Exercise Levels.
- Article: Community-Based Breastfeeding Support With the Tiger Babies Breastfeeding Support Tent.
- Postpartum Care -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) Also in Spanish
- After vaginal delivery - in the hospital (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Losing weight after pregnancy (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Questions to ask your doctor about going home with your baby (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Vaginal delivery - discharge (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish