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Postpartum Care for Mother & Baby

What happens after your baby arrives?

At our hospitals and birthing centers in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, you’ll receive expert, supportive care from skilled maternity professionals after delivery, and gain the skills you need to take care of yourself and your baby at home.

Postpartum hospital care

In the hospital following delivery, expect nurturing, one-on-one support for you and your baby including:

  • After-delivery care – In most cases, as soon as your infant is delivered, he or she will be placed directly on the mother’s bare chest for the first hour of life in order to promote bonding and encourage breastfeeding.
  • Assessment – Learn more about your baby when the maternity staff performs a nursery assessment to see if there are any conditions or complications that need monitoring.
  • Bath time – Watch and celebrate while your baby takes his or her first bath. If your baby’s condition is stable, the first bath will take place within 8 to 12 hours after birth.
  • Breastfeeding services – Learn how to nurse your baby successfully with the support of our certified lactation consultants.
  • Couplet care – With supportive encouragement from our nurses, strengthen your bond with your newborn as you both recover in a soothing, intimate setting.
  • Other details – We’ll help you apply for your baby’s birth certificate and social security number before you leave the hospital.

Postpartum care at home

In partnership with your dedicated maternity team, learn how to take the best care of yourself and your baby at home, including:


  • Asking for help – Ask for help from your partner, family, friends and support group.
  • Eating – Healthy eating helps you and your baby thrive.
  • Healing – Contact your doctor if you think your body isn’t healing properly.
  • Resting – Rest whenever you can.

C-section care

  • Bathing – Ask your doctor when it’s safe to shower, bathe or soak in water.
  • Breastfeeding – Consider breastfeeding because it’s natural, healthy and recommended by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization.
  • Caring for your incisions – Talk with your doctor about the incisions used in your delivery to make sure you understand how to care for your surgical site at home and how your incisions may play a role in future deliveries.
  • Driving – Don’t drive until your doctor says it’s okay.
  • Having sex – Delay having sexual intercourse or putting any objects in the vagina until after your six-week check-up.
  • Getting support – Think about joining a support group for new mothers to get encouragement and learn new parenting skills, and reach out to those around you.
  • Lifting – Avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby in the first few weeks after surgery.

Baby care basics


Use a sponge bath until the umbilical cord falls off and the belly button heals completely (1–4 weeks) or until a boy’s circumcision heals (1–2 weeks).

Have these items ready before bathing your baby:

  • A soft, clean washcloth
  • Mild, unscented baby soap and shampoo
  • A soft brush to stimulate the baby’s scalp
  • Towels or blankets
  • Clean diapers (keep more than one handy)
  • Clean clothes

Buckling up Baby

Always fasten your baby securely into your car seat, stroller or infant carrier.

If you’d like help making sure your car seat is installed properly, call the Niswonger Children’s Hospital Children’s Resource Center at 423-431-1053 for a free car seat safety check.


Before putting a diaper on your baby, have all supplies within easy reach so you don’t leave your infant unattended on the changing table.

Holding baby’s head

When holding your baby, support the head and neck with your hand or arm.


Don’t ever shake a baby because it can cause serious health conditions or even death. It’s normal to become frustrated sometimes when caring for a crying infant.

If you begin to feel overwhelmed, gently place the baby in a crib or other safe place and take a few minutes to calm down.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Hand hygene

Wash your hands, and insist that others wash or sanitize theirs, before touching or picking up your child.