We spend a lot of time talking about pregnancy and birth as Certified Nurse-Midwives, but we think it’s important to talk about the days and weeks after giving birth and what that looks like for women as well. The majority of our patients have a safe, healthy and uncomplicated recovery after giving birth. We always recommend that the days after being discharged from the hospital with your newborn are spent resting and caring for yourself and learning to care for your newborn baby.
Immediately After Birth
Pretty sooner after you deliver your baby, your healthcare team will assess your baby’s heart rate, reflex, muscle tone, and breathing. The umbilical cord will be clamped and your baby will have their office birth weight taken. They will be wrapped up in a blanket and kept warm.
The placenta normally passes shortly after the baby has been delivered with an uncomplicated vaginal birth. If there was any tearing or they had to perform an episiotomy, you will be stitched up.
If you had a more complicated birth or a caesarian section, follow-up procedures might be required and additional time for recovery might be needed.
Days After Birth
A woman’s body is pretty amazing in all that it can do and it adjusts quickly after giving birth. Common issues that are normal can include cramping, bleeding, swelling, tender breasts, difficulty with urination, or bowel movements.
Cramping can occur as your uterus returns to its normal size. This cramping might also be more prominent when you are breastfeeding. Vaginal discharge and bleeding are normal in the days after giving birth. The tissue that forms the discharge and the blood will flow heaver in the first few days after birth and will be a brighter red color. After a few weeks, the flow will become lighter and the color will not be as bright and then it will stop completely. It’s best to keep maternity sanitary pads on hand to help manage the bleeding. As the flow slows, you will be able to use normal pads. Avoid using tampons for at least 6 weeks after birth.
Many women experience difficulty with urination and bowel movements. You might not have a bowel movement for a few days after the baby has been delivered. Sore muscles, hemorrhoids and/or tearing can make going to the bathroom difficult and uncomfortable. Be sure to drink a lot of water and maintain a healthy intake of fiber.
Tender breasts and nipples are also normal as your breastmilk comes in. This will lessen as your milk supply regulates and you start feeding regularly.
Emotional changes are also very normal. Your body is adjusting to a lot. But as always, if anything seems like it is last too long or it is too uncomfortable, reach out to your midwife and discuss options with them.
We know that the first few days of breastfeeding can be challenging as both you and your baby are adjusting. If your baby was born prematurely or has special health needs, your healthcare provider will be able to guide you in the right direction when it comes to making the best decision on feeding your baby. Your midwife will be able to provide helpful advice and guidance on position and attachment during breastfeeding.
Talk to A Midwife
At City of Oaks Midwifery, our goal is to help patients in Raleigh and the greater Triangle area achieve the birth that they desire. We believe in watchful waiting and non-intervention in normal birth process, but work in collaboration with other members of the health care team as needed to provide optimal health care for both the mother and her baby both during delivery and after birth. To schedule an appointment with one of our certified nurse-midwives, call (919) 351-8253.