Your body has done something amazing so expect to feel exhausted and a little uncomfortable; this will vary depending on how complicated your birth was and whether you had a natural, assisted or caesarean delivery. Your emotions will also be intense and vary from elation to exhaustion, this is to be expected. Your body has undergone significant stress if you have had a vaginal delivery and you will probably experience bleeding from the vagina known as ‘lochia’ which is similar to a heavy period; you may also experience pains after birth due to the contractions in your uterus as begins to return to its pre-birth size. If you have had stitches in your perineum (the area around your vagina) this area will be particularly sore. Your care team will be able to help you be more comfortable.
If you had a caesarean delivery you will need more pain relief and help with doing tasks in the first day as you must avoid picking up heavy objects, although moving around is encouraged as soon as you feel able to do so. You will stay in hospital longer if you have had a caesarean delivery.
Your breasts will already be producing colostrum to feed your baby and you will be encouraged to breastfeed immediately as this will stimulate the production of milk and encourages bonding with your baby. Breast milk can take more than two days to before it’s in full production and feeding may be uncomfortable at first but persevere as this initial colostrum is very important and easier feeding will follow – help will be at hand if you are struggling to feed, ask for it.
As soon as your baby is born a series of health checks will be performed to check that all is well including a head to toe examination. Your baby may look a little strange at first especially if you have had an assisted delivery. If you have any concerns or worries talk to your care team but they will keep you informed and reassured.
Whether you had a straightforward birth or it was more complicated your body has been through an ordeal so expect to feel tired and a bit bruised. Emotionally you may feel overwhelmed and find that your emotions are unpredictable. Fluctuating hormone levels along with exhaustion and the responsibility and emotions that come with a new baby can lead to the ‘baby blues’ which are perfectly natural and should fade within the first couple of weeks. Be kind to yourself, ask for help with new tasks such as caring for your baby and let your care team know if you are worried about anything, talking things through can really help.