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26. The procedure for giving a bed bath.

If a new mother is unable to take a shower or tub bath, she may request a bed bath. Let the new mother bathe herself as much as possible. Bathing is good exercise for a person confined to bed. It also gives the woman and her family a chance to observe her condition, and it increases her circulation. In some cases, the father, a member of the family, or a Home Health-Care provider will have to assist the new motheror bathe her completely. Follow these guidelines.

a. Place on the bedside table all of the necessary items: a washbasin with warm water, a washcloth, soap, towels, a cotton blanket, skin lotion, clean pajamas or clothing, and toilet articles. If the new mother has a dry skin problem, baby oil may be added to the bath water. Be sure the room is warm.

b. Talk to the new mother and put her at ease while bathing. Maintain modesty at all times.

c. Place a towel under the new mother's head and neck. Wash her face, neck, and ears. Rinse and dry completely. Make a mitt with the washcloth so as not to have flapping ends dripping on the new mother.

d. Remove the bedcovers and the new mother's pajamas. Cover her with the cotton blanket. Uncover each part of the body only when it is to be washed. Place a towel under the portion of the new mother's body you will wash next. Wash and rinse and dry completely. Apply lotion to dry skin areas, such as feet, elbows, and heels. Cover her with a cotton blanket.

e. Wash the new mother's body in this sequence: hands and arms, chest, abdomen, feet. Change the water and turn the new mother over. Wash her back and buttocks. Have the new mother wash her genitals. Give gentle back care, showing special attention to reddened areas, especially the buttocks. Turn the new mother and put on her pajamas or clothing.

f. Cover the new mother with the sheet and blanket. Assist her with her personal toileting, such as combing her hair. Wash your hands.

g. When bathing a new mother, remember these points.

1) Clean the areas in creases and fat folds such as under the breasts and between fingers and toes.   2) Notice the condition of the skin. If a bony area is reddened, rub it frequently with a lotion.   3) Never rub the new mother's legs. Postpartum women can be prone to phlebitis. Rubbing may cause clots to be freed into the bloodstream and enter the lungs (pulmonary emboli), heart (heart attack), or brain (stroke). Check to determine that the OB care provider is aware of any reddened, warm areas on the legs.   4) Support the new mother's limbs under the joints during the bath.   5) Keep all nails cleaned and filed. Nails may be trimmed (with permission of the nurse in charge).   6) Change the water often. Don't let it get cold or soapy. Soapy rinse water dries out the skin and causes irritation.   7) Carefully take note and report to your physician/practitioner any skin changes.
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lsb 05/30/2002