Postpartum Questions Every New Mom Needs to Ask
If you’re a soon-to-be mom for the first time, congratulations!
You are about to embark on one of the greatest and most rewarding journeys ever!
Motherhood is amazing, challenging and beautiful. Sometimes, all at one time.
As you prepare for the birth of your baby, there are some postpartum questions to ask before you’re discharged from the hospital.
I separated them into sections because otherwise, you will be searching around for questions about yourself, your baby, and breastfeeding if you choose to do so.
The labor and birth experience can be really overwhelming.
I’ve had both vaginal and c-section delivery and each come with their own set of questions, so I’ve included that too.
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Postpartum Questions About You
What is happening inside my body?
After giving birth, there’s a lot happening inside your body. The uterine lining is going to continue to shed as there is no longer a sweet baby in there. This is going to come in the form of bleeding. At times, the bleeding may be overwhelming. Be sure to ask if you have specific questions about postpartum bleeding.
Whether you choose to breastfeed or not, your body is going to naturally begin producing breastmilk. If you choose not to breastfeed, you’ll want to ask what things are helpful in drying up your milk quickly. This may be painful, but the pain should decrease over time.
Another thing happening inside your body is that your uterus is shrinking. At your follow-up appointment with your medical team, they’ll check your abdomen and make sure your uterus has shrunk bad down to its pre-baby size.
When will the bleeding stop?
This is a question you’ll want to ask, but you likely won’t get a straight answer. The reason is that this varies from person to person. In my opinion, it also varies based upon how you delivered. I felt like there was less bleeding from a c-section than from a vaginal delivery.
The bleeding can also be very heavy at times, and you may pass a large clot or two. That can be incredibly scary! Be sure to ask what is normal, as well as when you should seek medical attention.
For MOST women, the bleeding often subsides within the first couple weeks. If you’re concerned, ALWAYS reach out to your medical team for help.
Are they any red flags I should watch for?
Having a baby is a REALLY big deal.
Your body just spent 40 weeks growing a baby, and then boom, it’s no longer needed to be providing oxygen and blood to two people.
Ask about any red flags you should watch for. I am not going to give any specifics here, because every single delivery is different. Even for the same person, every birth is different.
Don’t think your postpartum recovery will be the same each time. If something feels off, reach out to your medical care team.
For me, I seriously ended up in the ER after each of my births. No joke!
With my last delivery, I misunderstood the guidelines for when to call about a fever.
I understood that I didn’t need to call until it hit 104. WRONG!
I hit 104, had chills, the shakes and was a hot mess. Needless to say, they were incredibly concerned. When I called, they corrected me and said that I should’ve called when it hit 100.4, not 104. Oops!
Thankfully, it was just an infection that was quickly identified and treated, but still scary.
So, read the instructions they give you and listen CAREFULLY to what they tell you before being discharged.
What are your suggestions for managing my pain?
Regardless of how you delivered your baby, you’ll likely experience pain.
It may be from a c-section incision, a vaginal tear, your breasts exploding with milk, etc.
Pain is kind of one reality of giving birth. And it can be excruciating.
Make sure you are VERY clear on your discharge instructions about what medications you’re taking when to take them, how often to take them, and any potential side effects to watch for.
If you start having issues with the pain medications once your home, call your medical team and ask questions. That’s what they’re there for.
Thankfully, there are other pain management options as well.
For a vaginal delivery, the nurses should walk you through a series of steps for your postpartum self-care at home. Hopefully, this will include some kind of numbing spray. And if you’re lucky, they’ll send you home with a postpartum care kit like this one!
Also, if you haven’t heard of padsicles… check this out!
When can I have sex again?
Ah, yes, the infamous sex questions.
Let me remind you, sex is what brought you into this place, and you should probably give yourself a break before returning to it.
From my experiences, I have always been told to wait for about 6 weeks. This is usually when you’ll see your medical practitioner where they’ll check to make sure you’ve healed completely, and everything is a new “normal”.
And, don’t be surprised if sex doesn’t feel the same right away, or ever. For some women, they notice a big difference during intercourse, while others notice no difference.
Again, if you have questions, ask them!
What supplies do I get to take home with me?
Remember that postpartum care kit I mentioned a minute ago?
Hopefully, your hospital sends you home with one. I left the hospital with a bag of postpartum care supplies after each of my deliveries.
It may not feel like a prize, but it is.
The supplies in that bag may be all you need. But, even after just a couple of days of using them, I knew I needed more of a couple of the pain management things, namely, Tucks pads, and the numbing spray.
Always ask your nurses what you’re allowed to take home.
We brought home not only supplies for me, but also for the baby. Think things like diapers, wipes, nose syringe, etc.
Does it matter what clothes I wear?
It wasn’t until the second delivery that I realized I didn’t have to stay in that hospital gown. And thankfully, you clearly aren’t taking it home.
But what should you wear after having a baby?
I have helped many new moms in this post about what to wear after giving birth.
You’re tired of wearing maternity clothes, but your pre-baby clothes don’t fit quite right yet.
Buy yourself a couple of postpartum wardrobe pieces and be comfortable with your body for a month or so. Give yourself grace. It took 40 weeks for your body to change, and it isn’t going to snap back overnight.
Buy some cute clothes that will be comfortable and be OK with yourself.
What can I expect at my 6-week checkup?
This is a great question to ask!
Every practitioner is different I feel like, but overall, they’re all checking for the same things.
First, they’ll want to check your belly and make sure your uterus has shrunk back to its normal size.
Also, expect a vaginal exam. They want to make sure you’ve healed.
Another round of questions will come as they assess your mental health and make sure you aren’t showing signs of postpartum depression. Don’t take offense, they’re just doing their job.
If you’re breastfeeding, they’ll ask questions about that also.
Feel free to bring your baby to this appointment!
Will the Linea Nigra go away?
Good and bad news here. It may go away, or it may be with your forever.
For most women, it will go away with time, usually within a couple of months.
But, see what your practitioner has to say about it!
I’m not breastfeeding, what should I expect?
I breastfed each of my babies, but I know from talking to some friends who chose not to, that letting your milk dry up can be painful.
There are some things you can do to ease the pain and discomfort.
The most common thing I have heard is cabbage leaves.
Still, this is a great question to ask so you hear firsthand all the details.
When can I take a shower?
Every delivery is going to be different, so I think it’s always good to ask. I was allowed to shower at the hospital before leaving, but I know this may not be the case for everyone.
There are a lot of factors that can play a role in this, so always ask and don’t just assume you can shower.
When will my stitches dissolve?
If you had a vaginal birth with tearing, you likely have stitches. You’ll want to be sure an ask what to expect in the weeks ahead. Ask if there is anything you need to do before seeing your doctor again.
If you had a c-section, make sure you’re comfortable with the care routine and expectations of caring for your incision.
What should I do if I start feeling depressed?
You guys, postpartum depression is real, it’s serious, and it’s NOTHING to be ashamed about!!
You have zero control over your hormones as a new mom.
It can be really rough at times.
Give yourself LOTS of grace.
But, if you find that you just aren’t bouncing back to being yourself, seek out help.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of. NOTHING!
Even if you are diagnosed with Postpartum Depression, that doesn’t mean it will last forever.
Postpartum depression is nothing to mess around with and it can become a very serious medical concern for both you and your baby.
Make sure you know who to call if this happens to you.
Postpartum Questions About Your Baby
What should I do if my baby isn’t peeing and pooping enough?
This is a fantastic question every new mom needs to ask and be clear about.
If you’re a breastfeeding mom, be watchful of how often your baby is having wet and dirty diapers. You need to make sure your baby is hydrated.
Also, make sure you fully understand the specifics of breastfeeding. Things like not watering down breastmilk are important. Speak with the lactation consultant, and well as your pediatrician and make sure you have a basic understanding of proper expectations.
If you’re formula-feeding your baby, be cautious as well about making sure you’re keeping the diaper companies, or your washing machine if cloth diapering, in business.
Chances are, you’ll be tracking this with your nurse before you leave the hospital, but make sure you clear up any confusions or questions you have.
Can I give my baby a pacifier?
This one is tricky, and I think every pediatrician could potentially have a different answer.
Every baby is different.
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll be warned about nipple confusion, and likely told not to use a pacifier for a while. Let me just say, I used a pacifier as early as a week for the sake of my sanity, and our breastfeeding relationship didn’t skip a beat.
You have to know your risks about what could happen with nipple confusion and then make your own decision.
It can be REALLY hard to tell the difference between a hunger cry and any other cry. The sucking motion is soothing for babies. My kids loved the pacifier, some don’t.
Ask your medical team their thoughts, and then go from there.
How long does it take for my baby’s head to regain its shape?
Don’t worry, if you delivered vaginally and your baby’s head is shaped kind of funny, it likely won’t always be that way.
Depending on how long your baby’s head was in the birth canal, you may notice that their shape has a bit of a cone shape.
Luckily, their head should change into a rounder shape in the first few weeks.
As with anything, if you’re concerned, ask.
Will their feet always be like this?
You may think this is a strange question, and chances are, it’s unnecessary for you to ask, but for someone whose baby is footling breach, it’s a totally legit question.
My first baby was footling bring and the delivery ended up in a c-section.
Ten fingers- check.
Ten toes- check.
Healthy baby- check.
But the feet- they’re curved inward.
It happened within a matter of moments that I realized something was different about my baby. I’ve seen a lot of babies in my life, and none have ever had feet and ankles that curved in like that.
The pediatrician we saw before being discharged was very reassuring, that much like a baby’s head can change shape based upon the pressure in the pelvis, the legs of a footling breech baby are in the birth canal, and therefore change shape because of it.
Thankfully, within a matter of a month or so, our baby’s feet straightened out and we’ve had no problems since then.
What do I need to do to get their birth certificate and social security card?
This is seriously one of the most important questions to ask!
Chances are, they will tell you about this, and have you fill out a good amount of paperwork.
But every hospital is different, and the way they handle these things are different.
If you have questions, even after they explain it, ask.
There are a lot of things you’ll need your baby’s social security card for (including claiming them on your taxes), as well as their birth certificate.
When do I need to add them to my insurance?
From my experience and the experiences of many of my friends, most insurance companies like a heads up that you’re expecting a baby, and then they want you to call within 24-48 hours after you’ve given birth.
Of course, they’ll request some information from you, but it shouldn’t be a big deal to have them added to your insurance.
When will they go to their first doctor appointment?
With each of my deliveries, we had to have our baby’s first doctor’s appointment scheduled before we were discharged.
The hospital wants to make sure that you’ve registered your baby at a pediatrician’s office and that there is going to be a follow-up shortly after giving birth. For us, our pediatrician wanted to see our baby within 48 hours after we were discharged.
I am not sure if that is standard protocol, but it didn’t bother me at all. As a first-time mom, I was glad to have someone available to ask questions to and check my baby out and make sure I was doing what I should be.
If you’re a breastfeeding mom, make sure you bring up any feeding concerns you have at this very first appointment.
Circumcision- What to expect?
If you choose to have your baby boy circumcised, you’ll want to make sure to ask for detailed care instructions on how to care for their penis when you leave the hospital.
There will likely be a dressing you’ll need to remove.
If you notice your son is in a lot of pain, you’ll want to know if you can give them pain medication.
Also, ask if there is anything you should be putting on the skin itself.
It is also helpful to ask for a timeline of what to expect for your sons healing time.
Postpartum Questions About Breastfeeding
Who should I call if I’m struggling to breastfeed?
The hospital we chose to deliver our kids at were really supportive of breastfeeding mothers. In fact, I saw several lactation consultants with each delivery.
The hospital sent us home with contact information for the lactation consultants there at the hospital.
If you’re breastfeeding, make sure you ask before you leave.
I do know that La Leche League is a great resource for breastfeeding mothers.
Your midwife/practitioner or even your baby’s pediatrician may have a lactation consultant they recommend. I also know that some pediatrician offices have on-site services for breastfeeding mothers.
When can I start pumping?
This question is going to vary based upon who you can and by your situation.
From my experiences, I was told to wait until my breast milk seemed to regulate itself. This was around week 3 for me.
Some medical advice recommends waiting until week 6.
If you’re going back to work and need to make sure you have a freezer stash of stored breast milk, you’ll need to accommodate your schedule to make that work.
Never the less, ask before you’re discharged from the hospital and see what they say.
How will I know the difference between normal nipple pain, or something more?
This is a great question!
Trying to figure out breastfeeding can be incredibly frustrating and intimidating. But for real though!
Cracked nipples are kind of to be expected when you first start nursing. I feel like it comes with the territory.
But if it continues, or if your baby flattens your nipples when they nurse, there quite possibly could be a latching problem. I am not a lactation consultant so I won’t give in-depth advice here.
One red flag you’ll want to watch for in yourself would be a fever. I know a lot of moms struggle with mastitis, which can be incredibly painful.
When will my milk come in?
This isn’t the answer you’ll want to hear, but as with a lot of things, every woman is different, and every pregnancy is different.
A lot of women say their milk comes in within the first few days. For some, it may be a little sooner and for others a little later.
You will notice a difference when it comes in. Your breasts will feel much fuller, sometimes to the point of pain.
If you’re struggling to know if your milk is come in, reach out and ask to meet with a lactation consultant. They are an incredibly underutilized resource!
No Postpartum Question Should Go Unasked!
This is a lot!
Without a doubt, there are a lot of labor and delivery questions to ask.
But I think that we get so focused on those questions and that event, that we as new moms forget to ask postpartum questions about what’s going to be happening with our bodies in the month or two after giving birth.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a great resource to have at the hospital.
It’s no fun to get home and think, “I wish I would’ve known to ask that”. You’ll find yourself possibly slightly panicked as well as frustrated and trying to figure out the answers on your own.
Congratulations on your new baby!
If you haven’t given birth yet, you will LOVE the idea of not giving birth in the traditional hospital gown! Check out these super cute labor and delivery gowns!
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