Recovery After Birth

What's Happening to You

As you recover, hospital staff will monitor your:

    • Vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, pulse, breathing)
    • Uterus
    • Vaginal flow
    • Fluid intake/output
    • Episiotomy stitches or cesarean incision, if any
    • Need for pain medication

How long you stay in the hospital is a decision made by you and your physician, but it is affected by state and national laws and your insurance provider. Insurance companies usually cover about 24 hours for an uncomplicated vaginal birth and 48 to 72 hours for a cesarean birth.

Tips for Your Well-Being

  • Dramatic changes in your body are to be expected in the first month after delivery. But call your doctor immediately for certain conditions. Know what to watch for.
  • To help tone your pelvic muscles, do kegel exercises—tighten the muscles you use to stop urine flow. Hold while you count to 20, then relax.
  • If you are not breastfeeding, wear a well-fitting, supportive bra 24 hours a day for the first 2 weeks.
  • Many new mothers experience temporary swelling of the breasts when their milk comes in. Try these techniques for help with engorgement.
  • Continue taking your prenatal vitamins or a good multivitamin while you heal.
  • Feeling tired and sometimes overwhelmed by the needs of your new baby is normal. If you have more pronounced or longer lasting symptoms than baby blues after you go home, call your doctor.

How Valley Medical Center Can Help

  • You have a call button on your bed, and your nurse's phone number is on your message board. Please ask for any help or information you need.
  • Channel 29 on your hospital television runs a continuous program (24 hours) about mom and new baby care. Channel 15 offers the same programming in Spanish.
  • Our lactation consultants are available 7 days/week including holidays. 
  • Our on-site pharmacy can fill any medications you need before you head home.
  • We want to make sure things go well once you're home. See our checklist for breastfeeding.
  • Breastfeeding mothers often have discomfort when baby first latches on. Try these tips to relieve sore nipples.
  • Valley's physical therapists are specially trained to offer after-delivery therapy to ease pain and muscle tightness, teach you how to strengthen weak muscles and develop techniques to ease daily activities and physical stress of childcare 

It is important to call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these conditions after you go home from the hospital:

  • A fever over 101° (temperature taken orally)
  • Excessive vaginal bleeding (soaking one or more maxi-pads in 1 hour)
  • Passing a blood clot larger than a lemon, followed by heavy bleeding
  • Foul-smelling vaginal flow (normal flow has the odor of menstrual fluid)
  • Sudden onset of abdominal, incision, or perineal pain
  • Inability to urinate; pain, burning, or urgency of urination
  • Opening of an abdominal or perineal incision, foul-smelling or bloody discharge from an incision, or increased swelling of an incision
  • Tenderness with a red, warm, or swollen area on a breast, especially with fever or flu-like symptoms
  • Swollen, red, painful, and warm-to-touch area on your leg, especially the calf
  • Shooting pain down the back of your legs or difficulty walking
  • Severe headache, especially when sitting or standing, that gets better when lying down
  • Persistent depression or sadness that affects your ability to care for yourself or your baby

Lactation consultants are available to help you with feeding difficulties, sore nipples, milk supply (too much or too little), premature babies, babies with special needs, multiples such as twins, and breastfeeding an adopted baby.

While you are in the hospital following the birth of your baby, a lactation consultant is available 7 days a week, including holidays.  If you have questions after you leave the hospital, feel free to call our lactation consultants. If an appointment is needed, the lactation consultant can schedule one for you. Your insurance company will be billed for the appointment. Any charges not reimbursed by your insurance company will be billed to you.

Contact Us
For more information about Valley Medical Center's Lactation Services, call 425.228.3440, ext. 2526.

We want to know how your breastfeeding is going. Problems are easier to correct when identified early. Once you are home, when your baby is 4 to 7 days old, ask yourself:

  • Did your breasts feel firm and full between day 2 and day 5?
  • Does your baby latch on to your breast without difficulty?
  • Does your baby suck rhythmically for at least 10 minutes per feeding, and can you hear your baby swallowing milk?
  • Does your baby demand to be fed?
  • Do your breasts feel full before you feed your baby and softer afterward?
  • Is your baby having at least four yellow stools every 24 hours?
  • Is your baby having at least six wet diapers every 24 hours?
  • Does your baby appear satisfied after most feedings?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, call Valley Medical Center Lactation Services at 425.228.3440 ext. 2526.

If you are breastfeeding, it is normal for your nipples to be tender when your baby first latches on. The soreness should lessen within a couple weeks, but could persist if baby doesn't latch or suck properly.

If your nipple tissue is cracked or bleeding, try these treatment techniques:

  • Rotate nursing positions.
  • Start nursing on the breast that is least sore.
  • Use purified lanolin or vegetable oil on your nipples after feeding.
  • Dry your milk/colostrum on your nipples.

Temporary swelling of the breasts when your milk comes in is called engorgement. You may also experience pain and fever. Your baby may have difficulty latching on if you are engorged.

Engorgement is caused by lymph congestion, increased blood volume, and milk accumulation. Try these techniques:

  • Breastfeed frequently.
  • Rotate nursing positions to equally empty all lobes of your breasts.
  • Apply warm packs or take a hot shower before feeding.
  • For swelling, apply ice packs after feeding.
  • Express a little milk (by hand or pump) to soften the areola enough so your baby can latch on.
  • Take pain relievers, as suggested by your physician.
  • Wear a good, supportive bra.

Valley's Lactation Services team is here to help!



Lactation Services

Main Hospital, 2nd Floor
400 South 43rd Street
Renton, WA 98055