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Healing From Delivery

Just as it takes months to grow a baby, it takes months to recover and heal from pregnancy, labor and delivery, which are a lot of work for a woman's body. We don't want you to be scared or confused, so please use this information to prepare and support you in taking care of your postpartum body.

Vaginal delivery

A vaginal birth is not easy and pain due to an episiotomy, tearing, stitches or stretching of your vagina during labor and delivery is common. It's normal to be nervous and uncomfortable. Call your health care provider if stitches from delivery in or around your vagina open or become increasingly painful or have increased drainage. Please use the information below in the discharge instructions to support your healing process.

Cesarean section delivery

A cesarean section (c-section) is a major abdominal surgery. Moms who have had c-sections need extra rest and care to heal. It is important to call your health care provider if your incision becomes more painful. Also notify your provider if your incision becomes red, swollen, starts to open, or has increased drainage. Please use the information below in the discharge instructions to assist your healing process and remember to contact your delivery provider with questions or concerns.

Important Note: Your staples should be removed within 1 week of delivery.

It is very important to keep all of your follow-up appointments. Call your health care provider’s office to reschedule if you cannot keep your appointment.

Discharge instructions after delivery

We have put together a list of special considerations to aid in your healing process, whether you have had a vaginal delivery or cesarean section delivery.

In the event of an EMERGENCY, do one of the following:

  • Call 911 or activate your local EMS
  • Go immediately to the nearest adult hospital with an emergency department

To reach Labor and Delivery:

  • Phone number: (816) 234-9330
  • Ask to speak with a labor and delivery nurse
  • The unit is open and can be called 24 hours per day, 7 days per week
  • If necessary, the nurses can contact the Fetal Health Center physician

To reach the Fetal Health Center Outpatient Clinic:

  • Phone number: (816) 855-1800
  • Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Messages left after 4 p.m. will be returned the following business day
  • Please state your name, date of birth and reason for your call 

Patient Portal: The Fetal Health Clinic has transitioned to the Patient Portal for all electronic communication. We do not use email. We have made this transition to ensure that your electronic medical record is complete and accurate.

  • The Patient Portal is for non-urgent concerns and questions
  • It is staffed Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.. Messages can be sent for ANY Fetal Health Staff member and will be addressed in three working days
  • These messages will be saved into your medical record
  • Select “Fetal Health Center” under the “Send a Message” section
  • The nurses will triage these messages to the team member who can best address your needs

Call your health care provider immediately if you have the following symptoms:

  • Back pain
  • Bleeding heavier than a normal period, or large clots bigger than a quarter, soaking more than 1 pad per hour
  • Chills, aches or pains
  • Fever higher than 100.4°F
  • Headaches
  • Incision from a c-section that becomes more painful
  • Incision from a c-section that becomes red, swollen, begins to open or has increased drainage
  • Increased sadness, crying that doesn’t stop, or inability to care for yourself or baby
  • Increase in scary thoughts, inability to sleep when the baby sleeps, or changes in appetite
  • Increased worry or anxious thoughts, irritability, or trouble concentrating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Pain, redness or swelling in your leg(s)
  • Red, painful lump in your breast(s)
  • Stiches in or around the vagina from a vaginal delivery that open or worsen in pain or drainage
  • Vaginal discharge that has a foul smell or looks like tomato soup
  • Vision changes

Put nothing in your vagina – NO SEX, DOUCHING OR TAMPONS until at least 6 weeks after delivery or until the bleeding stops.

Call 911 if you have the following symptoms:

  • Behavior changes or hallucinations
  • Chest pain
  • High blood pressure, 160/110 or higher
  • Obstructed breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or swelling in your face, arms, or legs
  • Seizures
  • Severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • Thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself or others

Follow these guidelines on physical activities:

  • Ask family and friends to help with the housework
  • Focus on taking care of yourself
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Increase your activity a little each day
  • Minimize stair climbing
  • No driving for 2 weeks, or while taking pain medications
  • No lifting anything heavier than 15 pounds
  • You may go for a ride or a walk daily

Headaches after epidural or spinal anesthesia are rare but can happen 1-2 times out of 100. Usually, a headache from anesthesia happens 24 to 48 hours after the epidural or spinal anesthesia.

Symptoms of headaches from anesthesia can include:

  • Neck pain
  • Pain in the front of the head
  • Pain that is worse when you sit up or stand and gets better when you lay down
  • Pain that is worse with bright light or loud noises

You may have a period as early as 4 weeks or as late as 6 months. It is possible to become pregnant before you have your first period.

Put nothing in your vagina – NO SEX, DOUCHING OR TAMPONS until at least 6 weeks after delivery or until the bleeding stops.

Pregnancy and delivery are hard on your body. Below are guidelines to help with bowel and bladder changes:

  • Avoid constipation
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and drink 6-8 glasses of water a day
  • Hemorrhoids can be relieved by a sitz bath, TUCKS® pads, or Dermoplast® spray
  • It is common to have leakage of urine that normally goes away with little or no treatment
    • Wear unscented sanitary pads and talk about this problem with your health care provider

Visit the New Mom Health website for additional resources.

Breast feeding is NOT a form of birth control. Talk to your health care provider about the best birth control choice for you.

Your vaginal discharge normally changes from bright red to brownish-pink to yellowish-white. Discharge may last as long as 2 to 6 weeks. Continue to use the peri bottle until your vaginal bleeding stops.

View a clear description of your birth control options.

Follow these guidelines to help with your physical self-care:

  • You should shower or sponge bathe. If you had a c-section, do not take tub baths for at least two weeks.
  • Keep incision clean and dry; pat your incision dry after your shower or sponge bath.
  • If your incision opens, sponge bathe only and call your health care provider immediately.
  • Use the peri-bottle filled with warm water to cleanse your vaginal area every time you use the bathroom until your bleeding stops. Pat yourself dry from front to back.
  • Wear a clean, non-scented sanitary pad.

Visit the New Mom Health website for more information about taking care of your body at this time.

The postpartum period is full of stress and anxiety. You may have mood swings or crying spells caused by the sudden change in hormone levels after delivery. This is normal for the first 1-2 weeks after delivery. This is called the "baby blues." Do not be afraid to ask for help from your family and friends. If these feelings get worse or you feel you do not have control of them, call your health care provider.

Please navigate to the Self-care for Emotional Health page for more information.