Postpartum Care:  The 4th Trimester

The first few months after delivery are a busy time, whether you are welcoming your first baby or adding to your growing family. Your newborn will be adjusting to a lot of new experiences outside the womb. Mom can expect to undergo a lot of physical and emotional changes, too.

This time of postpartum recovery is sometimes called "the fourth trimester." It's the first 12 weeks or so after delivery when mom is healing from childbirth. It's an important time for the baby's development, and for mom to take some time for her own health and wellbeing.

Your postpartum care starts in the birthing center after delivery and continues after discharge with your OB/GYN and your baby's pediatrician. We offer a variety of support services to guide you and your family through this time of adjustment.

If you have questions or need help connecting to care, call our Women's Health Nurse Navigator at 513-261-8007.

Physical Recovery from Childbirth

Nine months of pregnancy brought a lot of changes to your body. After delivery, you may continue to experience contractions and afterpains as your uterus returns to its original size. You may also see some vaginal discharge as your body sheds remaining blood and tissue from the womb.

It can take 6-8 weeks to feel like you're physically recovered from childbirth. It's important to take care of yourself and rebuild your strength to ensure you heal properly.

  • Good nutrition will give you energy and help with milk production if you're breastfeeding. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and drink plenty of water.

  • Sleep when the baby sleeps. You'll be up feeding your baby in the middle of the night, so take advantage of those daytime naps to catch up on your own sleep. Talk with family and friends about helping with care responsibilities to avoid becoming fatigued.

  • Don't do anything physically demanding until it's been cleared by your doctor, especially if you had a C-section or experienced complications during delivery.

Emotional Recovery and Postpartum Depression

Motherhood is a big adjustment. Most women will experience some form of the "baby blues" after delivery. You might feel anxious, restless, irritable, or cry for no reason. These feelings usually go away within two weeks of delivery.

For 10-20% of new moms, these feelings continue longer and can turn into a more serious form of postpartum depression. There are signs to watch for that you might need more support:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, anger, hopelessness, emptiness, or being overwhelmed

  • Feelings of excessive guilt, shame, and self-criticism

  • Eating too little or too much

  • Inability to sleep or sleeping too much

  • Frequent doubts about your ability to care for your baby

  • Thinking about harming yourself or your baby.

These feelings are not your fault and reaching out for help is a positive first step. Call your OB/GYN or our women's health nurse navigator to talk about your feelings and symptoms. It's a zero-judgement call that can make a world of difference in how you feel.

We also offer a complimentary postpartum mental and emotional wellbeing assessment through the Galia Collaborative as an added layer of support.

Breastfeeding Support

Breastfeeding brings a lot of health benefits to both mom and baby. Soon after delivery, your breasts will become larger and firmer as you begin to produce milk.

Every mom will have unique experiences with breastfeeding, even from baby to baby. One of our international board-certified lactation consultants will talk with you about breastfeeding before you leave the hospital, but the care doesn't stop there!

Our lactation consultants are available by phone and email 365 days a year to help you through any breastfeeding challenges. We also offer breastfeeding support groups for moms to share ideas and ask questions.

Click here to learn more about breastfeeding support options.

Newborn Care

Your newborn should see their pediatrician for their first well-baby visit 2-3 days after coming home from the hospital. Federal health guidelines recommend a total of six well-baby visits before the first birthday.

Regular well-baby visits help you track growth and development and can catch things earlier when they may be easier to treat. It's also a good opportunity to ask any questions you have about caring for your baby.

Don't have a pediatrician yet? Call us at 513-585-3000 and we'll help you find one or click here to browse our pediatricians online.

If you are struggling with material needs like food, diapers, or setting up reliable childcare, help is available. Talk to your doctor or contact The Christ Hospital social work team at 513-585-2427 so we can work with you to find resources in the community.

You can also look for local resources online at

Pregnancy Spacing

It's possible to become pregnant again within just a few weeks after giving birth. Having a repeat delivery sooner than 18 months increases risks for a preterm birth and birth defects.

Stay on pelvic rest after delivery until you have your postpartum visit with your doctor. That's also a good time to talk about contraception and family planning.

Pelvic Floor Disorders

Pregnancy and vaginal delivery can cause long-term changes to your pelvic floor, the muscles and tissues that support the organs in your pelvis. Some women may experience urinary incontinence, pain, sexual dysfunction, or other symptoms – and assume it's a normal part of aging.

Today, doctors know that earlier diagnosis and treatment after pregnancy can keep your pelvic floor in better health. In some cases, your OB/GYN may recommend pelvic floor therapy to tighten and lift these muscles and encourage better overall function.

Talk to your doctor about whether you would benefit from pelvic floor therapy, or click here to learn more about the Pelvic Floor Center at The Christ Hospital.

Preeclampsia, Heart Disease, and Other Pregnancy-Related Complications

Women who experienced preeclampsia, high blood pressure, and diabetes during pregnancy are at greater risk for heart disease and stroke later in life. If you had any of these complications during pregnancy, follow-up with your doctor about 7 – 10 days after birth.

The Christ Hospital Women's Heart Center specializes in screening postpartum women who experienced gestational high blood pressure, preterm delivery, and/or delivered a small baby to determine their risk for cardiovascular disease. The care team also offers nutritional and exercise recommendations.

You may be eligible for a screening if you've experienced one or more of the following:

  • Gestational hypertension (high blood pressure)

  • Preeclampsia

  • Postpartum hypertension

  • A baby small for gestational age

  • Spontaneous delivery before your 36th week.

Postpartum Preeclampsia

Postpartum preeclampsia is rare, but it can happen within a few days up to six weeks or longer after your delivery.

Seek treatment right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Blood pressure of 140/90 or higher

  • Pain in your upper abdomen, severe headaches, or shortness of breath

  • Seeing spots or have swelling of the hands and face.

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Decreased urination.

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