FAQ: Postpartum and Newborn Care
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The nurses on the postpartum floor are trained in assisting and helping new mothers with breastfeeding. They can help you recognize your baby’s feeding cues and assist with positioning and latching your baby. They will be your primary resource during the first 24 hours after childbirth. See Lactation Service for more information.
Once your baby is 24 hours of age (when babies are more awake and vigorous), the lactation consultant will visit you and your newborn during a feeding session. If your baby is admitted to the NICU, your nurse will set up an electric breast pump and help you use it. Lactation consultants are also available in the NICU. See SPIN Program for more information.
Visits with the lactation consultant are included as part of your postpartum care at no additional charge.
Yes, your car seat should be in your room so that your nurse can make sure that your infant fits in it properly and show you how to use your carrier correctly. Your nurse will make the adjustments necessary so that your baby rides home safely from the hospital. It is helpful to have the car seat (its base can stay in the car) in your room the day prior to discharge.
Once you are ready for discharge, your nurse will place your baby in the car seat and he or she will be sent home secured in the seat. It’s also a good idea to have your car seat installation formally evaluated by the CHP or at a car seat fitting clinic.
Once discharged from the hospital, you should call your primary care provider, which may be your obstetrician/gynecologist, primary care doctor, midwife, or the clinic where you received your prenatal care. In the event of an emergency, call 911or go to the nearest emergency room.
For questions or concerns regarding your infant, call your baby’s doctor’s office or clinic. If it is after hours, most offices have a 24-hour calling service that will contact your baby’s doctor or nurse. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
You should seek health care advice if you are having any of the following symptoms:
- Excessive bleeding (needing to change pads more than once per hour)
- Foul smelling discharge
- Body temperature over 100.4 degrees, chills, nausea, vomiting or increased pain
- Redness, swelling, separation of the skin or drainage around a cesarean incision
- Severe headache or blurry vision
- Hot, red and tender breasts accompanied by flu-like symptoms
The discharge booklet that we give families when they leave the hospital addresses many common concerns and offers a lot of great common sense advice for parents. Be sure to call your baby’s doctor if your baby has any of the following symptoms:
- Jaundice or yellow skin (yellow color is usually noticeable in the face, but not always in the chest area)
- Eating poorly or refusing to eat
- No stool in 48 hours or less than six wet diapers in a day
- Rectal temperature over 100.4 degrees
- Redness, drainage or foul odor from umbilical cord
- Listlessness or excessive crying for no known cause
- Frequent watery stools
It is recommended that you slowly increase your activity level every day during the first few weeks after your baby is born. Do not take baths or go swimming and do not resume any strenuous activity or exercise until after you see your health care provider for your six-week postpartum appointment. Do not operate a vehicle if you are taking any narcotic medications and do not lift anything heavier than your baby until your bleeding has completely stopped.
Monitor your cesarean incision for signs of infection, which include redness, swelling, drainage, and separation of the skin around the edges of the incision. You will go home with steri-strips across your incision. You can take showers – just make sure you thoroughly dry your incision afterwards. The steri-strips will peel off on their own in approximately 10 days.
Doing physical activities, consuming dietary fiber and drinking extra water or other fluids can help prevent constipation. If needed, a mild laxative or stool softener can provide additional relief.
It is advised that you wait four to six weeks before resuming sexual intercourse. At your postpartum appointment, you can discuss options for contraception with your health care provider.
You may ask to see a social worker at any time during your hospital stay if you are feeling overwhelmed or sad, or would like information about resources in the community. Your health care provider can also provide information and resources. UC San Diego patients, also see Maternal Mental Health.
The Postpartum Health Alliance is another good resource if you are experiencing emotional difficulties during the postpartum period. The Alliance’s number is 619-685-7458 and its line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More information is available on its website at postpartumhealthalliance.org.
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