Preventing infection in your perineum, uterus, and urinary tract is very important. Proper handwashing is the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby to prevent infection.
Preventing infection of the uterus can help prevent hemorrhages. The most common cause for infection of the uterus (endometritis) is from germs that get into the uterus through the vagina. To reduce the risk of infection of the uterus for the first 6 weeks:
✔ don’t use any type of vaginal douche
✔ use only sanitary pads for the first 6 weeks, not tampons. Tampons keep the discharge inside the vagina and provide a place for germs to grow.
✔ don’t have intercourse until all vaginal bleeding has stopped to allow yourself time to heal completely If you have pain or tenderness in your lower abdomen or a fever over 100.4˚ F call your doctor.
To reduce the risk of infection of the perineum follow the steps for proper perineal care. Check your stitches and perineum with a good light and mirror every day to make sure the area is healing. The perineum isn’t healing as it should:
➪ if the pain and discomfort from your stitches is getting worse or isn’t getting better each day
➪ if there is redness, swelling, or drainage around the stitches or the skin separates
If something doesn’t look right or you start having a lot of pain in this area, call your doctor.
To reduce the risk of urinary tract infection:
✔ when you have to urinate, don’t hold it. Holding it can lead to a urinary tract infection.
✔ drink plenty of fluids
✔ use proper perineal care
Urinary tract infections can lead to other problems and may occur on the 2nd or 3rd postpartum day. The signs of a urinary tract infection are:
➪ feeling like you have to urinate often
➪ feeling like you won’t make it to the bathroom
➪ blood in your urine (see Tip 1)
➪ pain or burning while you urinate
More about Self Care After Vaginal Birth
Introduction to Self-care After Vaginal Birth
Preventive Self Care
Physical Changes and Healing
Activities and Healthy Exercise
Nutrition and Diet
Family Planning and Birth Control
Normal “Baby Blues” or Postpartum Depression
Your Postpartum Check-Up
Get as Much Rest as You Can
When to Call Your Doctor
Holding urine in your bladder can keep the uterus from having enough room to contract and shrink as it should. Contracting and shrinking is how your uterus stops the bleeding.
If you see blood in your urine during the first week, you may not be able to tell whether it is from your bladder, which may be a sign of a urinary tract infection, or from the uterus, which is from the lochia.
To find out where the blood is coming from, do a clean catch urine specimen by standing astride the toilet, wiping off the area, spreading the labia with two fingers, and urinating into a clean cup. If there is blood in the cup, it is probably from your bladder.