Postpartum Care

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Caring for Yourself and Your Baby

The time after having a baby can be special — and sometimes overwhelming — for you and your newborn. At Scripps, we want to offer you the support you need to help you adjust to the changes in your family and in yourself that will take place over the next few weeks and months. We offer postpartum recovery, education and services to help you and your baby get off to a strong and healthy start.

Caring for You & Your Baby

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Get Expert Help at Home

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If you need help caring for yourself or your newborn, we’re here for you.

Postpartum Depression

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Feeling depressed after childbirth? You’re not alone, and help is available. Find out about postpartum depression, including symptoms and treatment.

Parenting Classes and Support

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Attend our free parenting classes and support groups offered at locations throughout San Diego.

Taking Care of Yourself and Your Baby at Home

Bringing your baby home for the first time can be incredibly exciting; however, the first few days together can also be intimidating. This short video will give you tips on how to take care of yourself and your baby, including nutrition and activity, emotional changes, baby safety, when to call the doctor and more.

Bathing your baby

Gather all the supplies that you will need, including a washcloth, towel, diaper, clothes and blanket for your baby. You can alternate giving your baby water-only baths with baths using water and a mild synthetic soap.

Choose a mild bar or liquid synthetic soap, such as a baby bar or baby wash that has a neutral pH and does not have perfumes, dyes or preservatives.

For tub baths, place a towel or sponge liner in the bottom of the sink or use an infant tub to prevent your baby from slipping. If you are using an infant tub, place it in your bathtub or sink, or on the floor.

Do not place the tub on a table or countertop, as it can slip off easily. Fill the sink or infant tub with warm water. Always check the temperature of the water with your wrist or elbow before bathing your baby. It should feel lukewarm.

Begin by washing your baby’s face. Use a washcloth and warm water to clean your baby’s eyes, starting from the inside corner by the nose and wiping to the outside corner. Wash baby’s ears with the washcloth.

Do not use cotton swabs. Next, remove your baby’s clothing and wash your baby’s body. Carefully wash all your baby’s folds and creases. If your son has not been circumcised, do not push back the foreskin of the penis.

Wash your baby’s hair with warm water and a washcloth. Gently towel-dry your baby’s head, then the rest of the body, and wrap your baby in a towel. Diaper and dress your baby in clean clothing.

Never leave your baby alone in the bathtub. Always keep your hand on your baby while your baby is in the bathtub.

Bottle-feeding your baby

If you are feeding your baby from a bottle, always check the temperature and flow of the formula or breast milk before feeding.

Shake the bottle and then let a few drops fall on the inner side of your wrist. The milk should feel neither hot nor cold, and should come out in drops, not in a steady stream.

Hold your baby in a comfortable position with your baby’s head a bit higher than their body. Tilt the bottle to fill the nipple with milk or formula; if you are using plastic liners, squeeze the air out. This will reduce the amount of air that your baby might swallow.

To help your baby latch onto the nipple of the bottle, be sure the nipple is placed on top of your baby’s tongue. Your baby is sucking properly if you see small bubbles moving toward the end of the bottle.

Throw away any milk or formula left in the bottle after each feeding. Germs can grow in the milk and may make your baby sick.

Car safety

Car accidents are the leading cause of death and disability among children. A car seat can reduce the child’s risk of death by 80 percent and is required by law in the state of California.

  • Carefully read directions for car seat use. A car seat used incorrectly can be as dangerous as not using one at all. Read more about safely installing a car seat. 910-393-0390607693&iit=1468875432714&tmr=load%3D1468875431644%26core%3D1468875431669%26main%3D1468875432708%26ifr%3D1468875432717&cb=0&cdn=0&md=0&kw=&ab=-&dh=www.safercar.gov&dr=&du=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.safercar.gov%2Fparents%2Fcarseats%2Fhow-to-install-car-seats.htm%3Fview%3Dfull&href=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.safercar.gov%2Fparents%2Fcarseats%2Fhow-to-install-car-seats.htm&dt=Car%20Seats%20%7C%20Parents%20Central%20%7C%20Keeping%20Kids%20Safe&dbg=0&cap=tc%3D0%26ab%3D0&inst=1&jsl=33&prod=undefined&lng=en&ogt=&pc=tbx%2Cflw&pub=ra-543feee078b1d2dc&ssl=0&sid=578d42a7744e6d29&srpl=1&srf=0.01&srx=1&ver=300&xck=1&xtr=0&og=&csi=undefined&rev=v7.3.1-wp&ct=1&xld=1&xd=1.
  • Use belts and buckles of the car seat as directed in the instructions.
  • Buckle your baby into the seat before you cover the baby with a blanket.
  • Never ride holding your baby in your arms or in your lap sharing your seatbelt.
  • Never allow your baby to ride in a car without a car seat.

For more information refer to the California Child Passenger Safety Law.

Postpartum depression

Having a baby is an exciting and often emotional time, but just after delivery you may experience the “baby blues.” This is a normal, mild form of depression with symptoms that include feeling weepy, fatigued, anxious and overwhelmed.

However, if these feelings last longer than two weeks, you could have postpartum depression. Up to 20 percent of women experience postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. It is important to tell your doctor if you have any postpartum depression symptoms.

Postpartum depression symptoms

Women with postpartum depression have multiple symptoms that last for more than a few weeks.

These symptoms may include:

  • Inability to laugh or find things humorous
  • Inability to look forward to things or find enjoyment
  • Consistent self-blame when things go wrong
  • A feeling of anxiousness and worry for no apparent reason
  • Feelings of fear and panic
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Inability to sleep despite fatigue
  • Negative feelings toward the baby
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

In rare cases, women may experience postpartum psychosis, a rare condition characterized by severe mood swings, hallucinations and irrational thoughts or actions.

Treatment for postpartum depression

If you have any of these symptoms of postpartum depression, help is available. Contact your doctor immediately and let him or her know that you need help with postpartum depression.