Care for a new mother 249
Care for a new mother
Mothers need care after birth just as the baby does. People are often so busy looking
after the baby that the mother’s needs may be forgotten. Share this information
with your family or caregivers so they can help you get the care you need.
• To prevent infection, do not have sex or put anything in your vagina until your
bleeding stops. Bathe as often as you usually do, but do not sit in water until 1 week
after the birth. It is good for you to wash and to keep your genitals very clean.
• Get a lot of rest for at least 6 weeks.
• Eat more food than usual. You can eat any kind
of food: fish, meat, eggs, beans, grains, vegetables,
and fruit will all help you heal from the birth
and will give you energy to care for your baby and
yourself. Eating food high in fiber will help prevent
• Drink plenty of fluids. This will also help prevent
• Be as active and move about as much as you can.
• If your breasts become very swollen, hard, and sore, feed the baby
as often as possible, both day and night (every 1 or 2 hours, and on both breasts).
Also, place warm, wet cloths on your breasts for 15 to 20 minutes before each
feeding. You can take paracetamol for pain (see page 350).
• If you do not plan to breastfeed, do not try to remove the milk from your
breasts. If you do, your body will keep making more milk. Instead, wrap a length
of cloth firmly around your body, over your breasts, and apply cold cloths or ice.
You can also take paracetamol for pain (see page 350).
• If you have any tears in your genitals or vagina, wash them every day with mild
soap and clean water to prevent infection. Apply a hot, damp cloth and honey to
the tear to help it feel better and heal more quickly. After a week, you can also sit
in a bowl of clean, warm water with a little salt in it. If the tear causes burning,
pour water over your genitals while you pass urine.
• If you use plant medicines to help your genitals heal, make sure the plants are
very clean (boiled is best). Do not put plant medicines, or anything else,
inside your vagina.
• Start using a family planning method before you have sex again, or you could
become pregnant again right away. You can get pregnant 2 weeks before your
monthly bleeding starts again. If you are feeding your baby nothing but your
breastmilk, the breastfeeding will usually protect you from getting pregnant
again for about 6 months. For information on family planning, see Chapter 9.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007