First Hours and First Days after Delivery


The First Hours

For the first hours of your baby's life , you and your husband will get to hold and cuddle your new bundle of joy. If you plan on breast feeding, you may begin to nurse at this time. Although your baby will not be receiving milk at this time he will be receiving colostrum. The nipple stimulation during breast feeding provides an added bonus, as it helps your uterus contract. You will also be watched closely after delivery. The nurse or doctor will take your blood pressure, temperature, and pulse rate at regular intervals. Your uterus will also be massaged and you will be examined for signs of heavy vaginal bleeding or infection. If you had an episiotomy, it will be stitched. As long as you are comfortable and there are no other problems, you will be allowed to hold and cuddle your baby during virtually all of the activities following birth. Your new baby will most likely be particularly alert as he adjusts to the new environment around him. This allows for the new family to bond and develop a very special closeness.

As your newborn's condition stabilizes over the next six to 12 hours the hospital staff will continue to check his temperature, heart and respiratory rates, skin color, respiration, tone and level of activity. Your pediatrician will probably arrive to examine your baby during this time. Your baby's vital statistics are plotted on a birth weight/gestational age chart to determine whether he is small, average or large for his gestational age. This information may indicate whether your baby is prone to certain illnesses. The hospital staff will also note the first passing of urine and stool to make sure baby is eliminating properly.

The First Days

Your baby may room with you or in the hospital nursery, depending on the hospital and your condition. The hospital staff will continue to observe your baby's progress and make sure he is feeding well. They may also teach you how to care for your newborn once you go home. You will also be recovering during this time. After-birth pains, caused by the uterus contracting and relaxing as it returns to its normal shape might last for a few days. Changing position, lying on your stomach, and keeping your bladder empty will help ease the pains. The vaginal discharge that occurs after delivery, will gradually decrease and change in color. Your perineal area will be quite sore for a while, especially if you've had an episiotomy. Cold packs or warm baths will help make you more comfortable.

Most likely you will be discharged within a few days of delivery, unless you have had a cesarean. In that case, you will be kept for an additional day or two. When the mother is discharged, the doctor will examine the baby completely to make sure he is progressing properly. If you choose to have a circumcision on your little boy, it will be done at this time.

Going home is one more transition in a period of enormous changes. Be patient and relax as you try to settle in to your new life and responsibilities.