Congratulations! You have a new baby to care for. But it’s also important that you care for yourself. You went through many changes while you were pregnant and there are still some emotional and physical changes yet to come. Here are some common questions and answers:

Is heavy bleeding normal?

Bleeding is normal and means you are healing. The flow of blood should slowly become a lighter color and decrease in amount in 1 to 3 weeks after the birth of your baby. If you notice a fever over 100 degrees, are passing clots or clumps of blood, or increased discharge with a bad odor – call your health care provider.

How do I take care of my episiotomy?

Stitches used to repair your episiotomy do not have to be taken out. They will dissolve. In the meantime, do not wipe the area, rather rinse with clear warm water or blot dry.

How do I take care of my breasts?

If you are breastfeeding, use only water to clean the breasts and nipples. Avoid soap or creams that contain alcohol and wear a clean, well-fitting bra day and night. If you are not breastfeeding, use ice packs for no more than 15 minutes at a time, and do not empty the breasts by pumping or massage as this will make more milk come in.

When will I get my first period?

If you are breastfeeding, your period may take several months to return. If you are bottle feeding your baby, your periods may return in 4 to 8 weeks. You may be able to become pregnant before your first period.

When can I have sex again?

Most healthcare providers advise waiting at least 6 weeks after your baby is born.

What about my feelings?

Some women have times of highs and lows or a “blue” feeling after having a baby. These feelings may come and go or may last for a period of time. If they last for several days or you become concerned about yourself, contact your health care provider or call the national hotline for “Depression After Delivery” at 1-800-944-4773

Find out more about taking care of yourself after having a baby

What is postpartum depression?

Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others.

Postpartum depression does not have a single cause and does not occur because of something a mother does or does not do, and without treatment, postpartum depression can last for months or years. But, there are effective treatments available.

For more on symptoms, risk factors, and treatment, visit NIH: Postpartum Depression Facts

If you are experiencing postpartum depression or are concerned about someone who may be, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.