What to Expect Right After You Deliver Your Baby

The big day is finally here, you will be holding your little one soon.

Counting fingers and toes and admiring their wise eyes. You may not realize that there are several things that still need to happen before you can settle in with your baby.  Immediate postpartum and the weeks that follow are important and understanding what is normal and what to expect will help you feel more at ease and confident in the days to come.

Knowing what to expect and how to be prepared for it will help your transition.

After the baby comes the placenta. The placenta must detach from your uterus after the baby has arrived so that your uterus can clamp down and hemorrhage does not happen. There is often a lot of rubbing, if your provider takes active management of the third stage (the release of the placenta), then there may also be cord traction and administered pitocin to help the placenta release faster. The placenta usually detaches within 15-20 min after birth, but can take longer. Not all providers practice active management and take a hands off approach, waiting for the placenta to naturally release and helping it deliver once it has detached.

Once the placenta has been delivered, a nurse or provider will massage your uterus until it is firm. You can expect this to happen several times an hour for the first several hours after birth. This is never comfortable, but it is necessary to be sure your uterus is doing a good job and hemorrhage is avoided.

You may need stitches if you tore your perineum during the birth. If you have an epidural you will not be given local anesthesia, if you did not have an epidural, not to worry, you will have a local anesthesia to numb your perineum before stitching begins.

Once the stitching is done, a nurse will help you get cleaned up and bring you an ice pack and comfortable briefs, a new gown, a warm blanket, juice and snack. Having a doula at your birth is very helpful for this part because she can grab your favorite snacks and keep you company while all of the nurses focus on the other aspects of your transition.

During the placenta and stitching the nurses will be checking vitals on you and baby every so often. Many moms find it easiest to spend a few moments with baby and then have them go to the other side of the room so that the pediatric team can take care of the newborn exam and procedures while you get stitches and settled in after. When baby comes back to you, you can enjoy some skin-to-skin time and your new baby.

Once things calm down, usually at the 2 hour mark, if there were no unexpected complications, you all will be moved to a postpartum room for the rest of your hospital stay.

It is helpful to have a support person, like a doula present for the early moments after birth. When you need a hand to hold, someone to talk to or distract you, someone to answer your questions or someone to just be there for you and your partner, a doula is a perfect person to add to your team.