Postpartum Expectations: What Happens Immediately After Giving Birth?

mother-kissing-newborn-baby-postpartum

The moment you’ve been waiting for is finally here. Your little one is now a part of the outside world after months of being in your belly and lengthy hours of labor.

Pregnancy has surprising effects on your body. And it doesn’t stop when your child is born. Your baby’s birth might be a magical moment, but there’s generally a lot going on at the same time.

While you’ve probably spent months preparing for the birth, we sometimes overlook the fact that once we’re holding our baby in our arms, our wonderful bodies are going through a range of changes.

What Happens to Your Body After Giving Birth?

Your body changed a lot throughout pregnancy. It puts in a lot of effort to keep your baby safe and healthy. Your body is changing again now that your baby is here. But what exactly can you expect after giving birth?

Delivery of the Placenta

After you’ve pushed the baby out, the third stage of labor is to deliver the placenta vaginally. Mild contractions that last about a minute each will help detach the placenta from the uterine wall and move it along toward the vagina so that you can expel it. 

The placenta may come out minutes after the baby is born, or it may take up to 30 minutes.

Pitocin will be given to you once the placenta has been delivered. Pitocin can be given as a stand-alone injection or combined with the IV fluids you’re already getting. Pitocin will assist your uterus in contracting, preventing excessive bleeding.

Vaginal Tearing

Vaginal tears or lacerations are common during childbirth. They happen when your baby’s head is too large for your vagina to stretch around. 

Women at a higher risk of vaginal tears include:

  • First-time mothers
  • Mothers whose babies have a high birth weight
  • Mothers who had a long delivery
  • Mothers who had assisted birth, such as with forceps or vacuum

Your doctor or midwife will examine your vaginal and perianal areas after a vaginal birth for any lacerations or tears. You will be stitched if you have a large tear. To make sure you don’t feel anything, you’ll be given some local anesthesia.

Vaginal Discharge and Bleeding

After your baby is delivered, you’ll experience vaginal bleeding and discharge. This is referred to as lochia. It’s how your body gets rid of the blood and tissue that helped your baby grow in your uterus.

Lochia is dark red for the first three days following delivery. The lochia will be more watery and pinkish to brownish in color from day 4 through day 10, then creamy or yellowish from around day 7 to day 14 after delivery. 

The bleeding generally stops within 4 to 6 weeks after delivery. You should wear pads, not tampons, as nothing should go in the vagina for six weeks.

After-birth Contractions

After-birth pains are abdominal cramps that occur as your uterus shrinks back to its pre-pregnancy size.

The upper portion of your uterus is at roughly the level of your navel within a few hours following delivery. It stays there for roughly a day before slowly reducing with each passing day.

After-birth contractions can mimic labor pains or mild to moderate menstrual cramps. If you’re having your second or third child, the after-birth pains will most likely be worse than the ones you had with your first.

You can use the following strategies to ease the pain:

  • Lie on your stomach with a pillow under your lower abdomen.
  • Take a walk.
  • Take pain medication as recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Take a sitz bath.
  • Use a heating pad on your stomach.

Breast Engorgement

Larger breasts may seem like a delightful side effect after giving birth, but post-pregnancy breasts aren’t the same as a free set of implants. After giving birth, a message will be sent to your breasts that it’s time to start producing milk to feed your baby.

Your breasts will produce colostrum for the first few days. Colostrum is a nutrient-rich substance that’s yellow in color, and thicker than the milk that will come later. 

Your milk will come in after two or three days and your breasts will become large and very hard. Engorged breasts will cause you discomfort, but nursing your baby frequently is the best way to alleviate the pain.

What Happens with Your Baby After Birth?

In the seconds, minutes, and hours following your baby’s birth, the delivery room is a whirlwind of activity. If your baby is breathing normally, he or she will be placed on your chest or belly immediately after birth for skin-to-skin contact

Skin-to-skin contact keeps your baby warm, aids in breathing and heart rate regulation, and allows you and your baby to bond physically right away. It’s also a trigger for breastfeeding.

The umbilical cord will be clamped and cut after the birth of your baby. This can happen straight after birth, or you might be able to cuddle your baby for a minute or two before the cord is cut.

Your OB will use the Apgar test to examine your baby’s post-delivery health one minute and then five minutes after he or she is born. Your doctor will assign a score of 0 to 2 to each category before totaling the results. The Apgar test will assess the following:

  • Baby’s heart rate
  • Respiration
  • Muscle tone
  • Reflexes
  • Skin color

You’ll be able to breastfeed straight away. Your baby will get a vitamin K shot, eye drops, and their measurements and footprints taken shortly after that. The hepatitis B vaccine is commonly given 12 hours after delivery or during an in-office visit with your child’s pediatrician.

Your baby will also most likely have their first bath before you leave the hospital.

mother-holding-baby-in-nursery-room-postpartum

Bringing Your Baby Home After Birth

After an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you’re likely to stay in the hospital for 24 to 48 hours. If you have an uncomplicated c-section, you’ll probably be in the hospital for two to four days.

Before you go home, hospital staff will check that your baby:

  • Has a normal temperature
  • Is not at high risk of developing jaundice
  • Has had a wet diaper and passed a bowel movement
  • Has received all necessary medications and vaccines
  • Is eating well and has had at least 2 successful feedings

Once you finally make it home, it’s common to feel a little lost. 

Most parents don’t see their doctor or midwife for a postpartum visit until approximately six weeks after their baby is born, but that doesn’t mean you can’t contact them with any questions or concerns before then.

The majority of your questions can be saved until your doctor or midwife’s office hours. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of a medical emergency, you should contact your doctor or go to the local emergency center immediately.

These signs might include:

  • Fever
  • Redness or discharge at C-section site
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Dizziness or blurred vision
  • Painful urination
  • Severe headache
  • Pain or tenderness in legs
  • Heaviness in your uterus
  • Signs of postpartum depression

Support Your Body After Birth with Binto

After delivery, you may think that you can jump back into life as normal. This period of your life, however, is both a time of adjustment to life with a newborn and a time of recovery. The weeks following the birth of a child are a period of adjustment and recovery.

Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a C-section, it’s crucial to note that your body will need to recuperate from childbirth over time. At Binto, we create personalized packets of supplements designed for a healthier you for whatever stage you’re in. Visit our website and learn more about the best supplements for your postpartum recovery.