Congratulations - you just gave birth to your brand new bundle of joy! Now what?
Going through labor and delivery can be quite a long and difficult process. And yet, that’s only the beginning! Although you will probably be absorbed in soaking up all those newborn snuggles with your new baby, there are a lot of things that happen after you deliver your little one.
Wondering what to expect? You’ll want to consider these three things:
- What happens to my baby after delivery?
- What happens to me after delivery?
- What needs to happen before we go home?
Here’s everything you need to know about what happens immediately following delivery:
What happens to my baby?
Right after you deliver, whether vaginal or a C-section, your baby will be evaluated. Most doctors use the APGAR method to easily summarize the health status of your newborn. APGAR stands for appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration. A perfect score is a 10, although most babies were scoreless. Sometimes this test is performed twice. After the test, unless you or your hospital specify otherwise, your baby will be cleaned and have her nose and throat suctioned with a bulb syringe. Your baby will be swaddled and placed on your chest.
In most cases, your baby will be given a Vitamin K shot, which aids with blood clotting. He will also most likely receive some drops of antibiotic ointment in his eyes as a preventative measure against infection.
There are also some housekeeping things that need to happen - your baby will have footprints done, and an identification bracelet or anklet placed on her that can identify her as your baby.
The first hour immediately following delivery is an important one. It is essential for parent-child bonding. Because of this, many parents are choosing delayed cleaning and other activities and instead focusing on skin-to-skin bonding time immediately following birth. Skin-to-skin contact, where your baby’s naked body is nestled against your (other another caregiver’s) bare chest is a wonderful way for baby to settle calmly into the outside world. Skin-to-skin time is also very beneficial if you choose to breastfeed. This is a perfect time to let your baby’s head slowly make its way to your breast for that first latch. Taking time for skin-to-skin bonding also helps immensely with your baby’s temperature regulation. A newborn’s temperature can drop rapidly following birth, so they need those extra snuggles!
At some point, your baby will be seen by a hospital pediatrician or the pediatrician you chose for your child. While in the hospital, you may also choose to have your baby boy circumcised. Your baby will also likely be administered a hearing test.
Sometimes, the hospital has a contract with a birth photography company, and a photographer will come take pictures of your baby, which will be optional to purchase. Be sure to pack a few special items or outfits for your baby in your hospital bag!
What happens to mama?
After you deliver your baby, you will need to deliver the placenta. This usually is significantly less painful than giving birth, but it may be accompanied by some cramping or contractions. After this, your doctor may give you Pitocin (a form of oxytocin) to assist your uterus is contracting back to its pre-pregnancy size. Nurses may also externally massage your uterus - but nipple stimulation and/or breastfeeding can also induce contractions and uterine healing.
A doctor will examine you for any cuts that need to be stitched up. You may have had an episiotomy, which will be numbed and repaired. The stitches will dissolve over time.
If you’ve had a vaginal delivery, you’ll probably be given the infamous “mesh panties” and a large pad while you recover. Remember, the nurses can help you as much as you need - so don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for assistance, even for simple tasks. Even going to the bathroom after delivery can be a daunting task! You can also ask for pain medicine.
You will be encouraged to breastfeed your baby. Most hospitals have lactation consultants on-site, so be sure to ask to see one when you and your baby get used to breastfeeding. A lactation consultant can help you with your baby’s latch, assess any pain or problems you’re having, and give you tips and tricks for establishing a great breastfeeding routine. As you wait for your milk to come in, you will be encouraged to latch your baby often. You may even ask to borrow a breast pump while you are in the hospital if you are interested in using a pump. Hospital staff can also bring you cooling gel pads to ease any nipple soreness, a nipple shield, or lanolin cream.
Nurses will continue to check your healing throughout your hospital stay. They will also continue uterine massages to help your uterus contract. You will have your vitals taken several times each day.
You will also be administered a hospital bracelet that matches your baby’s!
What happens when I leave the hospital?
Before you leave the hospital, several things need to be done. Many hospitals require a mother to attend a new mother class to go over newborn essentials, or they will have a nurse come into your room to go over newborn facts with you. You will also need to fill out your baby’s birth certificate. A pediatrician may do a final examination of your baby before you leave as well.
You will need to have a properly installed car seat before leaving the hospital. Most hospitals encourage parents to leave their newborns in just a diaper and swaddle during their stay, but when you leave, you can choose to dress your baby in a special “going home” outfit! You will also need to change out of your hospital gown, so be sure to pack some loose-fitting, comfortable clothes to wear on your drive home.
The post-birth experience varies widely between mothers, but these are the standard procedures done in most cases. Before you go into labor, it is best to prepare yourself for what is to come. This can help alleviate any nervousness you may have about your hospital stay! Remember, if you have any questions about the aftermath of labor and delivery, be sure to ask your doctor, a friend, or one of KeaBabies’ amazing support communities on social media!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.