10 Things You Should Know About the First Few Hours After Birth
When I had my first baby over eight years ago, I had never even seen a newborn, let alone held one before. I asked my mom all kinds of questions about what labor and delivery was going to be like and what to expect when I had a baby in my arms. She was a great help, and I was thankful she was in the room with me the entire time for support because I didn't realize just how many more questions I was going to have about my body and my newborn right after birth.
If you haven't given birth before, there are some things that may surprise you immediately after your baby is born. I was surprised by more than a few things that happened, so here are 10 things you should know about the first few hours after you give birth:
You will feel tired.
Being tired makes sense if you've had a long drawn-out labor or if you've been up for hours and hours before, but even if you had a fast labor or a c-section, you will feel very tired and sore. You're going to use strength and muscles you didn't even know existed, and they will all hurt.
You may not feel immediately bonded.
I had always been told that the moment you see your baby for the first time, it will be magic. But for me, it wasn't. And that's OK. You're tired and hormonal, and you're getting to know this new human, but sometimes, that immediate bond doesn't happen. It will over time, so don't worry.
After-birth pains hurt.
If you're expecting the labor contractions to be gone once the baby comes out of your body, you will be surprised. After-birth discomfort can be due to uterine contractions, just like labor, and you know what? It can hurt just as much. According to About.com, these “contractions after the birth help [the uterus to] shrink back down in about four to six weeks.” My mom warned me that the pain was going to be worse with the more children I had, and she was so, so right about that. Be sure to ask for extra pain management if you're finding it to be a big cause of discomfort, and check out these tips for handling the pain.
Even after a c-section you will bleed vaginally.
I just had my first c-section for my last child, and I was surprised that even after that I was bleeding. It made sense to me after my vaginal birth, but if you have a c-section, you will need to wear pads for 4-6 weeks postpartum as well. While I found the bleeding to be less than with a vaginal birth, I was still surprised with how much there was immediately after birth.
It's normal if your baby wants to eat all the time.
Your milk won't come in for a few days, and while you're not starving your baby, the more they latch, the more that tells your body to start producing milk. It's not unusual or bad if it feels like your baby wants to eat all the time–it's totally normal. For tips on what to expect and how to breastfeed right after birth, read Tips on Breastfeeding After Birth by Dr. Sears and check out our Breastfeeding 101 course.
You'll probably be sweaty.
And you will probably sweat more than you thought possible. Due to the hormones and extra fluid you had through an IV during your labor, you might want to pack a few extra nightgowns in case.
You'll still look pregnant.
If you expect to walk out of the hospital with a flat belly and fitting comfortably into your pre-pregnancy jeans, you'll probably be surprised to find your belly is still there. I noticed that right after birth I looked like I was still about five months pregnant, and the area was a lot softer than I had expected. It will slowly shrink as your uterus shrinks and your skin will start to tighten back up.
You may gain weight, not lose weight.
If you step on the scale, don't be surprised if you gain weight. It's likely all due to extra fluid from drinking, the IV in the hospital, and some postpartum swelling. You'll see it slowly fall off with all that sweating you're about to do.
Your baby's head may look weird.
If you've never seen the head of a brand new baby, don't worry–your baby is not destined to be a cast member in the remake of Coneheads. It can be shocking to see the results of the time spent in the birth canal, but the strange shape won't last forever. According to the doctors at Web MD, “not only will the head shape change (usually within 48 hours or less) that cone shape you see at birth is quite normal.”
No matter how tired you are, you'll stay up and stare at your baby.
After birth, you'll spend countless hours staring at all the features of your baby. You'll touch the curves on his ears, the little hairs on his forehead, and re-count all his fingers. You'll talk about his eye color, how much hair he has, and you'll compare his features to your partner and yourself, no matter how little sleep you've had or how tired you are.
Been there, done that mamas: What surprised you after giving birth?Read More