Giving birth can be one of the most exciting and scary things you’ll ever experience, but much of the birth-related preparation goes into this particular moment, without much thought of what happens after. It’s good news, for the most part – right after an uncomplicated birth, the healthcare team will perform some checks, cut the umbilical cord and give you time to bond with your new bundle of joy. In the event that you have a home birth, the midwife will stay with you until they’re sure that you and your baby are alright. For more complex births, such as caesarean sections, a few more follow-ups are needed. There are quite a few things that happen after this, however – in this article, we go through what typically occurs after giving birth to better prepare future mums.
The first steps after birth
Right after birth, the healthcare team will perform an Apgar assessment, a process that evaluates the heart rate of your baby, in addition to its breathing, muscle tone, reflex response and colour. After these are tested an ‘Apgar score’ is given, which will sum up your baby’s condition after birth. Other tasks the healthcare team will manage include weighing your newborn on a baby scale to establish its birth weight, putting identification tags on your baby, clamping the umbilical cord and keeping your baby warm. In the event of a more complicated delivery, there will be a few more tasks that staff will need to attend to. In some instances, your baby may need to be promptly delivered to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Nursery (SCN) in the hospital you are located in, and it is often the case that premature babies will need to stay for longer durations at the hospital in order to be monitored. For the new mother, there are also options available in the event that the birth was particularly stressful, such as provided counselling.
Other important steps to note
Although the physical recovery after birth will be assured, the emotional recovery is something not often as considered. It is common to experience a decline in mood around the third or fourth day after your give birth due to significant changes in hormone levels, the constant need to breastfeed, a lack of sleep and general fatigue. These feelings should go away a few weeks after birth, but if they don’t, you may be experiencing postnatal depression. For this reason, it’s important to seek professional health advice as soon as possible. When it comes to feeding your baby, breastfeeding is the best option for newborn health. Even then, it isn’t without its problems. Early on both you and your baby will need to adjust to the process – for instance, it is normal for a newborn to feed every two hours, which can mean sleepless nights are guaranteed. It will also be explained by midwives as to how you can create a safe sleeping environment for your baby to minimise unexpected detrimental issues.
When to go home after giving birth
After the birth, you’re allowed to leave the hospital as soon as you feel well enough. This will include being medically fit, having the ability to easily feed your baby and have some kind of home support network. There’s no rush, though – you can even stay in hospital for a couple of days if you need the rest.