Postpartum Care: Everything You Need To Know!

Right after the birth of your baby, lots of things happen!

What Happens Right After Your Baby is Born?

If you read my post on a vaginal delivery, you already know what happens during hospital birth. But what kind of postpartum care will you and your baby get immediately after delivery?

Right after birth is a critical time for both you and your baby. Believe it or not, even though the baby has been born, there are still some things that have to happen. Keep reading to find out what you can expect right after birth!

Postpartum tips after baby is born

Oh No, My Baby Isn’t Crying.

Please don’t panic! Most babies come out and either cry right away or soon after birth. There will be a healthcare professional by your side to make sure your baby is healthy. As long as your baby breathes right after birth, he or she can stay skin-to-skin with you for a while.

Sometimes they just need some rubbing and cleaning off (called “tactile stimulation” in medical terms) before they cry and breathe. Other times they need some more help.

If they do need more help, most often there is a baby bed/warmer in the delivery room. That is where the nurse or doctor will take your baby to help him or her transition. It has all the medical equipment needed to help your baby.

There are lots of things that happen postpartum right after your baby is born!

More Help to Transition

In rare occasions, babies need what is called PPV (Positive Pressure Ventilation) to help them breathe. A bag filled with air will have pressure to get oxygen into your baby’s lungs. Most health care professionals trained to take care of babies know how to do this.

If your baby isn’t breathing properly, more staff will be called to the room to help out and all hands will be on deck to help your baby. Most often, it does not take long to help your baby transition and you will soon hear your baby cry. Once he or she has been checked out properly you can start doing skin-to-skin.

Read more about the amazing benefits of skin-to-skin right here on Babytalk! Skin-to-Skin: The One Place Your Baby Wants to be After Birth

That will help them transition even better after a rough start.

In very rare cases your baby might have to be moved to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or special care nursery for more intensive care than is possible at the bedside. Your partner or another support person is usually able to accompany your baby, and the NICU staff will keep you updated.

Keep in mind that newborn babies are very resilient and are most often able to breathe on their own within a few minutes of birth. Your baby is in the best hands possible!

Delivering the Placenta

Your baby is out, but there is still more pushing to do.

After the birth of your baby, the placenta separates from the uterine wall and you have to push it out. Typically the delivering doctor will pull a bit to see if it’s completely separated and then ask you to push a to get it out. You’ll have to push quite hard, but usually less than when you pushed your baby out. The placenta is all very squishy and comes out pretty easily!

More from Babytalk: What Happens During a Vaginal Birth in Hospital?

The doctor will then check the placenta to make sure it’s all there. The reason for this is that if there are bits left over inside, it might cause excessive bleeding after. And you don’t want that!

In rare occasions, the placenta doesn’t come out on its own. The doctor might need to do a manual removal with his or her hands. This only happens if it’s been more than 30 minutes and it looks like the placenta is stuck. In even rarer occasions the placenta might need to be removed with what is called a D&C procedure in the OR. This is done under general or local anesthesia. This is very rare!

I’m not trying to scare you with this post, but I do want to inform about all the possible outcomes after your vaginal birth.

Postpartum Bleeding. What’s Normal?

So after birth, your period comes back, and with a vengeance!

Your bleeding will be heavy in the first couple of days after birth. That being said, there is such a thing as abnormal bleeding.

Your nurse will be feeling your uterus quite frequently and checking to see how much you bleed. She will also be checking your blood pressure and pulse. The top of your uterus should be at your belly button, it’ll feel like a really hard ball. It actually takes about 6 weeks for your uterus to go back down to pre-pregnancy size. It usually sits below your pubic bone.

The reason the nurse is always pressing on your belly is to make sure that the uterus is firm. If it isn’t firm, that might cause you to bleed more than normal and we need to make sure that isn’t happening!

Abnormal Bleeding in the Postpartum Period

If you do have excessive bleeding right after delivery, there are all sorts of medications we will give you to try to stop the bleeding. Most often medications will do the trick to stop it. If you do bleed excessively, it’s called a PPH (Postpartum Hemorrhage).

More from Babytalk: 8 Common Medical Terms When You’re Giving Birth

Every now and again we can’t stop the bleeding and that’s when things happen very quickly. You might need to go to the operating room for a D&C (that’s how they scrape whatever blood and tissue are left in your uterus).  Your blood pressure will be checked multiple times and you will probably get an IV to give you extra fluids. You might need a blood transfusion if you lose a lot of blood.

Thankfully this is very rare, but something that happens every now and again.

Once you’re home, the best way to know if the bleeding is too much is if you put on a pad and completely soak it within an hour. I mean, completely dripping-through-your-pants soaked.

If you do, go to the hospital immediately. That’s too much bleeding!

Oh no, I Need Stitches! Now What?

Don't worry, it won't take that many docs to stitch you up postpartum!

Don’t worry about it!

It’s pretty common for women to tear at delivery. The most common tear for a first-time mom is called a “second degree”. Not everyone does tear though, so you won’t know until after the baby is out. Most doctors use a dissolvable stitch, so you won’t even have to have them removed!

Keep the area very clean and watch for signs of infection, like increased redness or oozing of any kind. Your vagina will heal quite quickly. It’s kind of like your mouth. A very vascular area.

If you didn’t have an epidural and can feel the doctor suturing, ask if they can use a local anesthetic so you don’t feel as much while they are stitching. They usually do anyway!

Bleeding Checks and Vital Signs

While you are still in the delivery room you’ll be checked pretty frequently.

We need to make sure your bleeding or “lochia” is normal and the nurse will be checking your vitals as well. Once you are on the postpartum floor, you will still be checked, but not nearly as often. If your bleeding does suddenly become heavy, don’t hesitate to talk to your nurse. That is what she is there for!

Skin-To-Skin and Bonding Postpartum

Make the most of your time in recovery to bond with your baby. Yes, there will be a lot of people wanting to come to see your baby and visit, but personally, I recommend you wait and keep the visitors away as long as possible.

This is precious time that you will never get back. It’s ideal if you can keep your baby skin-to-skin for two hours right after delivery. Enjoy bonding time with your baby and partner. Take lots of pictures and just try to keep this time quiet and special!

It’s not only an enjoyable time but also a physiologically necessary time for your baby’s transition outside of the womb.

Babies are very alert during this period and it’s an ideal time to start breastfeeding. Most often babies will have a very good first feed and then sleep well for a few hours after.

All about breastfeeding in the beginning: Best Way to Be Successful at Breastfeeding

You’ll be super tired after the delivery, so once your baby is sleeping you should be too! Another reason to keep the visitors at bay.

Discharged From the Labour Room, What Happens Next?

Usually, if all is well, you’ll stay in recovery for 1-2 hours. After that, your nurse will transfer you to your postpartum room. Once that happens you will have a new nurse take care of you. This nurse will help you with breastfeeding and check your bleeding as well, just not as frequently as right after delivery.

How did you find your postpartum recovery? Did you have a traumatic experience? Please share with the rest of us in the comments below! I’d love to hear your stories.

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