If you’re concerned, see Warning Signs for Postpartum.
In the first 24 hours after birth it is normal for birth mothers to:
- Expect a fairly heavy flow for the first 24 hrs, like a heavy period in appearance and scent. Flow should gradually taper in the following few days, then continue lightly for approximately 4-6 weeks.
- Pass small clots and gushes, especially after lying down for some time
- Have a firm uterus that feels like a grapefruit below the navel
- Experience night sweats
- Urinate frequently
- Feel exhausted and need rest
In the first 24 hours after birth it is normal for babies to:
- Breathe irregularly, including pauses and some periods of rapid breathing
- Spit up mucus
- Have blue hands and feet with pink body, face and lips
- Sleep for 4-6 continuous hours after birth then wake up every 2-3 hours to breastfeed
- Pass stool (but may be within 48hours)
Postpartum Care – Mother
- In the first week, only responsibilities should be to eat, sleep and feed and cuddle baby
- Sleep when the baby sleeps
- Get assistance with getting up for the first day. Never get up while holding the baby (first 24hours), in case of fainting.
- Do not lift anything heavier than the baby for 3 weeks after a gentle vaginal birth; 6 weeks after a Caesarean or traumatic birth.
- Take temperature daily for the first 5 days; twice daily if membranes were ruptured more than 12 hours before birth or in case of traumatic birth.
- Oral temperature: 15min after ingesting hot or cold, or being in hot water. Put tip under and against tongue to 1 side of frenulum, close mouth and wait for the beep (or 5min for glass thermometer; remember to shake well before use)
- Light movement is fine during the first 6 weeks. Any increase in cramping, bleeding, or discharge going from brown to red means you’re doing too much!
- In the first 1-2 days, gently massage uterus (back and forth motion) several times daily to ensure it’s firm like a grapefruit
- Urinate often
- Breastfeed often
- Nothing inside the vagina
- Take arnica to aid with tissue healing
- After-pains are due to the uterine contractions and tend to be stronger with subsequent pregnancies and during breastfeeding. Lay or sit, apply pressure (e.g. pillow) and heat (hot water bottle), take extra calcium, and consider calling midwife for homeopathy.
- It’s safe to take acetaminophen (Tylenol x-strength) every 6 hours (for pain) and ibuprophen (Advil) every 4 hours for swelling for the first few days after birth
- Avoid aspirin, alcohol, herbal supplements with willow-bark as they promote bleeding
- Keep area as clean and dry as possible
- Use peri-bottle of warm water and 1 dropper of calendula tincture after using the toilet
- Wear the lightest pad necessary and change it with every visit to the washroom.
- Apply frozen calendula pads to perineum/hemorrhoids several times daily for 2-3 days
- If any tears/suturing to perineum, soak in a clean bath each day with ½ cup of Epsom salts or sitz-bath herbs added. Keep knees together as much as possible, including while walking or on stairs. Airtime helps speed recovery.
- Begin light elevator-Keigels and pelvic floor exercises
- Drink plenty of water and nutritional drinks, including Pregnancy Tea Blend
- Eat whole foods – 3 meals and 2-3 snacks daily (just like during pregnancy)
- Continue prenatal vitamins, acidophilus, essential fatty acids for at least 6 weeks
- Continue or begin to take iron supplements if they were prescribed
Normal Postpartum Care – Baby
- Feed when the baby wants but a minimum of every 4 hours around the clock (see “breastfeeding” below). A breastfed baby shouldn’t be offered anything other than breast milk/ colostrum.
- If baby’s definitely satiated and still wants to suck, it may save nipples to offer a clean pinkie; insert to first knuckle, pad up.
- Keep the cord-stump dry (fold diaper below) and clean. No need to put anything on it, but calendula tincture is acceptable.
- When changing diapers wipe from front to back, only once per cloth. Clean folds of skin but do not open genitals and never retract foreskin.
- Clean baby’s hands, folds in neck, and face with a clean damp cloth daily
- Bathing is recommended only once or twice weekly with gentle and “edible” soap
- If fingernails are long then prevent scratching by cutting with newborn-clippers or gently chew them off
- Keep the baby at a comfortable temperature. If concerned take baby’s temperature. Put the end of the thermometer at deep centre of armpit, then the hold arm against side until thermometer beeps (or 5min for glass; remember to shake well before use).
- For plugged tear duct gently but firmly press at the inner bridge of the nose with the pad of your finger beside the baby’s inner eye. Stroke up to remove blocked material, then downward 3 or 4 times to the nostril. Repeat several times daily until it clears.
- Sleep with the baby in your room. Baby should sleep on her/his back, on a firm surface away from puffy blankets and pillows.
- Feed baby frequently, usually 10-12 times/24 hrs after first day or so. Baby may have long periods of sleep in the first 24 hrs so may feed less frequently. Feed the baby on cue, minimum every 4 hrs or so. Babies usually nurse for 15-20 minutes.
- Baby’s mouth WIDE open before latching! If painful, retry the latch over and over until it’s correct. This will prevent sore nipples. Don’t do even 1 feeding with improper latch.
- Should feel a pull but not a pinch
- Breast well supported in one hand, where an underwire goes, away from nipple
- Baby position: skin to skin, belly to belly, nose to breast, pull in very close so that very little/none of areola is visible, with both baby lips open (not tucked in).
- Nipple care: Expect nipples to be tender for a few days. Express colostrums onto nipple /areola after each feed. Allow to air dry. Do not use soap or chemicals on nipples. In case of chaffed or dry skin, Lanolin or pure vitamin e-oil can be used (but try the colostrum first). Change nursing positions
- If breasts get engorged with milk (hard and full-feeling), apply refrigerated green cabbage leaves, and reapply new ones as they “cook”
- Avoid the use of pacifiers or artificial nipples
PLEASE CALL IF YOU’RE TEMPTED TO USE FORMULA IN SPITE OF PLANNING TO BREASTFEED