Like most pregnant women, you took good care of yourself and your little one throughout your pregnancy: Getting plenty of rest, eating healthy and drinking water, exercising safely as advised by your doctor and avoiding anything that could be dangerous to you or your baby.

“I give the same lecture to all of my patients the day after they deliver,” says Thru Tran, MD at Capital Women’s Care. “It’s critical for new moms to continue taking care of themselves so they can take care of their newborn.”

Dr. Tran’s advice to her patients and all new moms is to:

  • Go to your follow-up appointment
  • Eat healthy and drink plenty of water
  • Get active
  • Learn what to expect after delivery, including what’s normal after childbirth and when you should call the doctor

Go to your follow-up appointment

According to Dr. Tran, only about 40 percent of women go to their post-partum appointment. The post-partum appointment is the only way your doctor can ensure your uterus is going back down in size and identify if you are at risk of bleeding. It also gives you the opportunity to ask questions and bring up any concerns you may have.

Your follow-up appointment is usually three to six weeks after delivery. If you had a cesarean section, you will also need to go two weeks after delivery so your doctor can check how your incision is healing.

Eat healthy and drink plenty of water

Nutrition is just as important after delivery as it was during your pregnancy. Dr. Tran recommends eating plenty of protein, fiber and staying hydrated. Protein can help give you energy during breastfeeding, and has the added benefit of helping your skin and hair stay healthy.

Fiber can also help ward off constipation, which is often a problem after delivery. Drinking plenty of water can help constipation, and can also help your body produce the milk your baby needs.

Stay active

Physical activity may sound like the last thing you want to do after giving birth and being up most nights with a newborn, but it can help your body heal and make you feel a lot better.

“It’s very important to move around at least a little to help reduce your risk of blood clots,” says Dr. Tran. “Take a short walk or move around your house to help your body recover.”

Women can return to normal activity six weeks after delivery. Staying active can also help women lose weight.

What to expect after delivery

Pregnant women’s bodies have accomplished an astonishing feat over nine months. It’s normal to be surprised by what happens to your body after delivery. Dr. Tran always reminds her patients what’s normal:

  • It can take a few days for milk to come in. Some women’s milk comes in quickly, for others it takes 3-4 days after delivery.
  • You may bleed off and on for up to six weeks after delivery. You may experience heavy bleeding again around days 10-14, which is normal. You should, however, call your doctor if you begin to completely saturate pads.
  • Do not drive for the first two weeks after delivery.
  • Limit the number of times you go up and down the steps in the first few weeks.
  • Call your doctor if you have a fever or severe pelvic or abdominal pain

Adventist Healthcare Shady Grove Medical Center offers many classes to prepare parents about what to expect after delivery.