By Dr. Stephanie Brazus
Riverview Health Physicians OB/GYN
You’re home now and most of your questions about your newborn have been covered. But what about what’s going on with you—and your body? And what about your emotions? Here are the answers to a few key questions new moms may have…
Q: How much bleeding is OK after delivery of a baby?
A: It is normal for your bleeding to pick up seven to 10 days after your delivery. Some bleeding is normal for up to six weeks following birth. Known as lochia, this bleeding is part of the natural cleansing process of the uterus. The lochia will continue to taper off before it stops in roughly two to six weeks after the birth.
Note: If you feel lightheaded, may pass out or any large clots appear, seek emergency medical help. You could be experiencing a postpartum hemorrhage, which is a medical emergency that requires immediate care.
Q: How do I know if my feelings are normal or postpartum depression?
A: First, know that you’re not alone. Hormonal changes after childbirth affect most women. Common symptoms include mood swings, sadness, crying and restless sleep patterns. Generally, these feelings start to fade about 10 days or so after delivery.
But if you don’t feel better by getting help with the baby and housework, getting more sleep, eating better or doing some light exercise, talk to your healthcare provider immediately so he or she can tell if you have postpartum depression, a serious condition that needs medical treatment to get better. In fact, if you’re at all concerned about your ongoing feelings, reach out to your healthcare provider who can offer the support, information and medical care you need to feel better.
We also offer a support group for pregnant or new moms that provides a supportive, understanding and non-judgmental environment where women can encourage and help each other adjust to the changes in their lives.
Q: When can I resume sexual intercourse?
A: Most health practitioners discourage women from having sex within the first six weeks after childbirth, as genital organs usually haven’t fully healed, and you can get pregnant during this time.
Note: The healing process varies. Even though a woman might be physically ready, the dramatic shifts in hormones may decrease your interest in sex. Take your time and be sure to talk to your partner about how you are feeling.
These are just a few of the many questions new mothers may have after giving birth. Chances are, there will be many people in your life who will have opinions to share. Your best bet: Talk to your healthcare provider who has the knowledge—and experience—to give you the advice and medical guidance that’s just right for you.
Sources: Womenshealth.gov, BabyCenter.com, Pregnancy.org