Healthy Moms

Here you will find information about new moms' health and wellness and a variety of issues important to women after pregnancy.

Early care of mother and baby

Taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of the baby. If you are not well, you will be less able to care for and enjoy your newborn.

Physical changes

After having a baby your body goes through many changes. Following is a brief description of those changes, and when you should seek medical attention.

Vaginal Flow

Normal expectations

After the birth of your baby, you will bleed from two to six weeks. The colour and amount of flow will change gradually from bright red to pink to brown. From time to time, you will have a brighter flow, especially at the time of breastfeeding.

When and where to get medical attention

If the bleeding increases to the point where you are filling one pad in half an hour with bright red blood, go to the Emergency Department at a hospital for help.

Perineum (the area between your vagina and rectum)

Normal expectations

Your perineum may be swollen from delivery, or sore if you have stitches. Wash your hands carefully each time before and after touching your bottom. For a few days you may wish to continue using the plastic cleansing bottle with warm water after urinating. Change your sanitary pad frequently. Any stitches you have will dissolve in a few days.

When and where to get medical attention

If you experience increased pain, redness, swelling or a foul-smelling discharge from your stitches, please see your health care professional, local emergency department or call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000

Incision (after a Caesarean birth)

Normal expectations

After a Caesarean delivery, once the dressing has been removed from your incision, you may shower as often as you like. Let the warm water run over your incision and pat it dry gently. Wear loose clothing that does not rub or irritate your incision. For support and comfort, you can cover the incision with a light pad.

When and where to get medical attention

If you experience redness, tenderness, swelling, have a fever, or a discharge from your abdominal incision, please see your health care professional, local emergency department or call Telehealth at: 1-866-797-0000


Normal expectations

Your breasts will begin to feel heavier 48 to 72 hours after delivery. The fullness or engorgement may last one to three days, depending on measures taken for relief (such as breastfeeding regularly or manually expressing milk).

When and where to get medical attention

When breastfeeding, if you experience a red, hot, painful area on your breast, have fever or flu-like symptoms or have tender, cracked nipples, call Breastfeeding Support Services (Grand River Hospital) at 519-749-4355.

Bowel movements

Normal expectations

You will most likely have a bowel movement within two to three days following the birth of your baby. To decrease the pull on your episiotomy stitches during a movement, try holding a clean sanitary pad over your stitches. To keep bowel movements soft, drink lots of fluids and eat fruits and vegetables, whole grain and bran products.

When and where to get medical attention

If you are having pain while passing bowel movements, no stool within two to three days following a vaginal delivery or three to five days following a C-section, see your health care professional.


Normal expectations

If you have hemorrhoids (swollen varicose veins around the rectum, you may find ice packs helpful for the first 24 to 48 hours. You can also get a special cream from the pharmacy.

When and where to get medical attention

If your hemorrhoids interfere with your activities of daily living or if you are having fresh red bleeding, see your health care professional.

Emotional changes

After the birth of your baby, you will also experience hormonal and psychological changes. Within the first three weeks after having a baby, it is common to feel one or more of the following:

  • Tired
  • Tearful
  • Frustrated
  • Irritable or oversensitive
  • Anxious

If these feelings continue, or begin to interfere with taking care of yourself and your baby, you should talk to a health-care professional such as your family doctor, public health nurse, social worker or a crisis line.

For more information about postpartum adjustment, blues or depression, check the Best Start website, Mental Health Resources, or contact any of the following:

  • Your Physician
  • Your Midwife
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health 519-575-4400.
  • Local Emergency Department
  • Canadian Mental Health Association Crisis Line: 519-744-1813
  • Cambridge Memorial Hospital: 519-621-2330 ext. 4361

Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight and Physical Activity

Eating healthy foods and being physically active are important for good health all through your life, especially now that you are the mother of a baby.

Eating a variety of foods from the four food groups will provide you with the energy and nutrients you need. A good diet and daily activity will help you feel more energetic, build strong muscles and bones, and achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Healthy eating and weight

Healthy eating means more than just choosing healthy foods. Healthy eating includes considering why you eat, how you eat and when you eat.

Now is a good time to start. As an important role model for your child, it is up to you to set a good example. Here are some suggestions:

  • Eat a variety of foods every day, following recommendations in Canada's Food Guide.
  • Eat regularly scheduled meals and snacks. Avoid grazing through the day.
  • Watch portion sizes. Start with a smaller portion and go back for seconds if necessary.
  • Keep in mind how big Canada's "Food Guide Serving" size really is.
  • To keep your stomach satisfied:
    • eat breakfast every day
    • include a source of protein (meat or alternative; milk or alternative) at every meal and snack.
    • eat more vegetables and fruit.
  • Control your appetite: eat only if you are hungry. Don't eat out of boredom, stress or habit.
  • Eat slowly. Stop when you feel satisfied or comfortable.
  • Wait before having a second portion.
  • Eat meals with your family, sitting at a table if possible.
  • Turn off the TV and get rid of other distractions.
  • Be a role model and expect good table manners of others.

For more information about nutrition, the Nutrition page on our website.

Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide

In 2007, Canada released a new food guide with recommendations for everyone over age two. The guide was developed to:

  • Help you make good food choices providing enough energy and nutrients for health and activity.
  • Lower your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis.

What's in the Guide?

  • The amount of food we need, according to our age and gender.
  • Guidelines for wise choices within each food group.
  • Information on the importance of physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • An explanation of the Nutrition Facts table printed on food packages, and how to use it in making good food choices.

Recommendations for healthy eating

  • Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable or fruit each day.
  • Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice.
  • Eat whole grain products at least half the time.
  • Try to include at least two Food Guide Servings of fish each week.
  • Choose meat alternatives like beans, lentils and tofu more often.
  • Consume two to three tablespoons of unsaturated oils and fats daily.
  • Limit foods that are high in calories, fat (saturated and trans), sugar and salt.
  • Drink water for thirst.
  • Use the Nutrition Facts table to choose foods that are high in vitamins and minerals and low in sugar, sodium (salt) and fat.
  • Note: the Milk Products food group is now called Milk and Alternatives. It includes fortified soy beverages. Recommendations on supplements.
  • Men and women over age 50: Vitamin D (400 IU daily).
  • Women who could become pregnant and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: Folic acid (400 micrograms (0.4 mg)/day) plus extra iron for pregnant women.

How to get a copy of the guide

On the Health Canada website, you can learn more about Canada's Food Guide, order copies and create your personal food guide.

Translations of the guide are available in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi (Persian), Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil and Urdu.

In Waterloo Region, Canada's Food Guide can be ordered from the Public Health Resource Centre. Call 519-575-4400 ext. 2196, email, or order online

Physical Activity

Adults should have a total of at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week. Make physical activity part of your daily routine, and remember that even small changes provide health benefits.

Following are some suggestions:

  • Walk as much as possible.
  • Find an activity you like and schedule it into your day.
  • Find a friend to share an activity. Encourage and support each other.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park at the far end of the parking lot and walk to your destination.
  • Work in your garden, rake the leaves and mow the lawn.
  • Clean your house.
  • Take your pet for a walk.
  • Start a walking/jogging club or consider joining a team.
  • Play actively with your child/children every day.
  • Turn off the TV and get away from the computer.

For more information about Canada's physical activity guidelines, go to Canada's Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living page on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Sexual health

Sexual Health - Region of Waterloo Public Health

To speak with a Public Health Nurse about pregnancy or planning a pregnancy, please call Region of Waterloo Public Health 519-575-4400. Calls will be returned Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Social support

There can be a sense of isolation for a woman at home alone with a baby. Although it's important to nurture themselves as well as the baby, one of the biggest challenges for a new mom is finding time to meet her own needs.

In addition to family and friends, there are numerous community programs and supports for new mothers. To learn more about some of them, go to the websites of Ontario Early Years and KW Counselling Services.

Neighbourhood community centres also know about programs available in each area. You can find the phone number of the closest centre through Region of Waterloo Public Health 519-575-4400.