You did it!
It was all worth it leading up to this moment and now your holding your precious little bundle of joy.
Now let’s talk about what your body will go through the first 48 hours after you deliver your baby.
Heads up, please do not read if you’re easily grossed out! Or if you’re a guy just snooping. But if you’re reading this to support your partner after the birth of your new arrival, then stick around.
To the ladies about to go through this, this is not meant to scare but to simply inform you.
Medically speaking, the fourth stage of labor starts at around 1-2 hours after delivery and it is during this time that your body will go through many changes. It is very important for a mom to understand what changes her body will be going through and how to care for herself to promote the best healing.
What happens to the Cord after delivery?
The umbilical cord is one of the most commonly overlooked things for moms during birth and most moms have not even asked this question as it is something you generally do not think about. It is always good to keep baby attached to the cord for a few minutes after delivery unless an emergency was to arise. This will allow the blood and any nutrients left in the cord to be delivered to the baby. It also gives the baby a chance to have something ‘familiar’ while adjusting to the outside world. As for you, savor this moment as this is the LAST time you are physically attached to your baby.
If you are interested in Delayed Cord Clamping or Lotus Birth please make it known to your Dr. and all medical staff as it is common practice to immediately cut babies cord.
So you may think while holding your sweet little one that birth is over however the fun part has not even happened yet. Yep you get to birth again but this time you will be delivering your placenta. I know what you’re asking. Does it hurt? – In plain and simple English, yes, it hurts. Unless you’ve had an epidural during delivery, you’re likely to feel this process. The delivery pf your placenta however will not be anywhere near the length it took to labor and deliver your baby which is awesome news, but yes you will be asked to give a few more small pushes as your Dr or Midwife slowly delivers your after birth.
With the delivery of the placenta comes the gash of bleeding! The bleeding is heavy so you will need to have adequate maternity pads to soak up the excess blood – yes, postpartum bleeding is FAR heavier than your monthly period!
During your stay it is common for many facilities to do a "massage" on your belly to help with any blood clots. Do not be fooled with the word massage as yes it will hurt, however after the first few it will start to hurt less and less I promise.
The bleeding is mostly heaviest in the first 48-72 hours. The flow will then even out and eventually stop. The whole cycle could take up to 6 weeks.
After the delivery of your baby, you will experience postpartum contractions known as afterpains. These resemble menstrual cramps and can be quite painful at the best of times. This is basically your uterus contracting back into shape and moving to its usual position. The pain should ease with time. However, over the counter painkillers or painkillers prescribed to you by your doctor will help. A surprising thing that has helped many of my moms was wearing a Postpartum Girdle. The pressure around your stomach from the girdle helps cope with the pain.
You can also check out many of my tips on how to deal with after birth cramping in a more natural way if you are against pain management.
After baby you will feel all kinds of weird things but the most common is feeling dizzy and having a physical imbalance. The heavy bleeding and the exhaustion from labor can make you feel dizzy when you stand. Make sure that you stand up slowly and only do so when you feel ready to.
Don’t forget you’ve just pushed a small human being out – your body will be off balance in every possible way so take is slow momma!
Make sure to drink plenty of fluids to help with the dizziness and to get your organs functioning again. Drinking water will also help you flush things out of your body.
You will feel a very weird emotion as you greet your foreign body for the first time and that is normal. Your body has held a baby for 10 months and now is just a shell of what you know so please don't feel pressured to immediately try to be superwoman!
Coping With Episiotomy Stitches
This one is a tough topic and for those who do not know.....yes you can get stitches down there after birth depending if you tore or what degree tear you might have suffered.
Having stitches is not fun at all! And that’s the number one reason many new mommies are afraid to even use the toilet!
They sting (from peeing) and they hurt when you try to poo.
Water and Stool Softener are going to be your best friend. You will want it diluted so it doesn’t sting as much – and drinking plenty of water will help with that. Use Ice or heat compressions to help ease the pain down below. These Postpartum Ice Packs and Postpartum Heat Pads will do the trick!
Don’t use toilet tissue – for your front or back! Instead, use a perineal wash bottle for a quick clean. You will feel much cleaner after. For an even better feel, the Earth Mama Bottom Spray is Amazing! I highly recommend eating foods that will stimulate your digestive passage. Intentionally add plenty of fruit and veg into your diet to get your bowels moving.
With all that pushing, you are likely to develop postpartum Hemorrhoids. And like the stitches, Hemorrhoids are no fun either. A good quality Hemorrhoid Cream will help with the discomfort and promote recovery.
For your comfort, Sit and lay down gently. Use a doughnut ring Cushion for sitting and your maternity pillow when sleeping. These will help alleviate the pressure on your bottom and your lady bits!
Don’t rush or strain to open your bowels. Take your time!
Hygiene Down Under
Ok, now that we’ve covered that topic, let’s talk about getting yourself clean!
After long, intense hours of screaming, sweating and pushing (in that order), your body will be worse for wear and you will want to freshen up.
While still in the delivery room, you will be offered a bed bath – personally, I just don’t think this cuts it. It’s also not the same as having some water down below.
If you feel well enough, ask your midwife or Dr. if you can have a plain water Sitz Bath. This can either be done in the bathtub or you can use a portable over the toilet one.
To dry yourself, simply pat your down below with a cheap, BUT CLEAN towel. Do not rub – this will only make things worse. Besides, you’ll be too sore and delicate for that.
Don’t worry if you are unable to get up for a wash. You can have a bed bath (or wipe down) and use the Earth Mama Bottom Spray – Seriously, this stuff is pretty good!
Make sure you change your Pads regularly in between washes.
This should go without saying, but make sure you wash your hands BEFORE AND AFTER EACH CHANGE!
Is it Nap Time Yet?
In the first few hours you may be too excited to sleep – even if you’ve had a long and exhausting labor. But you’ll want to take a nap soon after all the action. Newborn babies are also usually quite alert for the first hour or so after birth, so you might want to make the most of it.
Your Stay in the Hospital
The length of your hospital stay will depend on the type of birth you had. In a government hospital, your stay may be as short as six hours for a normal vaginal birth. “If there are complications or you had a C-Section, your stay may last for weeks. In private health care, it can last for three days for a normal vaginal birth and four days for a C-Section.
Time to Head Home
Of course you are excited to be heading home after the very long few days you have in a strange room filled with non stop tests and nurses, however there a few things that happen before you can walk out those doors. Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam on the baby and new mom. You’ll be taught how to care for yourself and your newborn. You will be required to fill in some paper work.
The healthcare provider will give advice and help ensure a smooth transition when you go home.
Be sure to have an infant car seat that meets safety standards. Place your baby’s safety seat in the backseat. Be sure to follow the instructions so that it’s secured properly in your car. When you’re ready to go home, place your baby in the safety seat and adjust the straps as needed.
If you need help or are uncertain if baby is placed correctly, ask your healthcare provider.