After nine long months, you are finally about to have a baby. How exciting! Though at this point you are probably just so anxious to pop the baby out because you are very exhausted after growing a watermelon. But here’s the thing, what happens after birth? What are your first 24 hours with your newborn going to look like?
Now I know everyone has a different experience with labor and some even have a heck of a different experience during the first 24 hours too. The main difference would probably be whether you had a c-section or natural birth. Today is going to be about 24 hours after a natural birth.
I had a natural birth and if you want to hear about it then head over here.
Your First 24 Hours After Birth
There are a few things we will have to get into because in the first 24 hours you will be recovering, feeding your baby for the first time, learning from the nurses or midwives, and much more. Those 24 hours may seem like a long time, but it is pretty packed full of things that need to be done and as an exhausted momma it will feel like a lot.
We will start more with a timeline so that you can see how it will most likely go.
Right after pushing the baby out
As soon as you push your baby out you still have a bit of work to do. Your doctor will still need to deliver the placenta. This means they will be pushing pretty hard on your stomach to remove it from the walls of your uterus. Once they are done with that if you have torn they will sew you up.
At the same time, the nurses are weighing your baby, cleaning them off, putting on a diaper, and making sure everything is healthy with your baby.
Now if your baby is a premie they may take them straight to the NICU. But if they are a premie with very healthy weight and great lungs they may actually let the baby stay with you in your room instead. My daughter was a month early and completely healthy (thankfully) and they decided she was perfectly fine to stay with me.
After the doctor has finished and the nurses have checked the baby they will bring you to a new room for you to recover in. Before that the nurses will help you put on their maternity underwear with a giant pad in it and a type of freezer pack to help your lady parts cool down and numb a bit. Then they will clean you off a bit and get you ready to move with the help of other nurses.
They took me in this weird standing aid type of cart I guess you would call it. I do understand why they would since you don’t want to sit down straight after birth, especially on new stitches. But, I will say to be prepared when they put you in this because I got extremely dizzy in it. Don’t get me wrong I was pretty weak after giving birth because I lost a bit too much blood, but it was very nauseating to be moved in this for me.
My suggestion if they put you in this to breathe like they tell pregnant women to do when they give birth. Hee-hee-hoo. That way you at least are trying to breathe through it and concentrating on that instead of getting more lightheaded and nauseous.
In the new room
This room will probably be smaller than your other room only because it isn’t made for birthing and just for recovering needs less space. There will most likely be a couch and a couple of chairs along with your new hospital bed and the baby cart. The couch usually can convert into a bed for the husband or family member to sleep on when they stay with you.
There should also be a bathroom with a shower attachment in your room as well. This is where when you feel ready to leave the bed you will shower off to feel better. I do suggest having help to do so. Whether it be from your husband, mom, sister, nurse or just whoever you trust and feel comfortable to help you.
But before you start to think to shower off right after birth is going to happen, think again. As soon as you give birth you will be exhausted. Plain and simple. You just pushed a watermelon and that takes a lot of energy. That is why you will be taking a nap and are highly encouraged to do so. Don’t worry about if you can’t get up to help your baby during that time because that is what the nurses are there to help with and/or family members.
While you nap the nurses will come in from time to time to check up on you. They will give you pain meds if you request it and keep an eye on your IV. Most of the nurses will also take a quick check to see how your baby is doing. After a couple of hours, the nurses will slightly rouse you to let you know that they need to run a few standard tests on your baby. Super simple ones like checking their hearing and eyes. Listening to their heart rate, etc.
Then once it is time for baby’s first feeding they will wake you up.
First feeding time!
Hospitals will encourage you to breastfeed. Nurses will come in and tell you it is time to try to breastfeed your baby. Now if you don’t want to breastfeed they will try their best to convince you, but it is your right to not breastfeed. However, I will be going into what they do when you are willing to breastfeed.
When you wake up from your nap and are told it is time to feed your baby they will ask if you have breastfed before. If you say no they will help coach you through the process. Some babies will latch on quickly and others may not. It really all depends. But they will have you try your best.
If it doesn’t seem to be working what they will do is teach you how to self-express your breast milk into little cups. Basically, it’s those cough syrup cups to measure out how much your dose is. But this way you know how much you have expressed and what you can feed your baby.
After having expressed out the milk you will take a clean empty baby medicine syringe that they give you and fill it up. And what you do next is simple. Get your baby to open their mouth and squeeze a little bit of milk into their mouth at a time until it is empty. Ta-dah! You have just fed your baby.
The nurses will also hand you a sheet that charts your feedings for your baby. You have to fill this out every time they eat, how long and how much. Sadly you will have to keep doing this for a while that day just so that the nurses can judge if you are producing enough.
Now if you had to use the syringe to feed your baby then they will have a lactation consultant come to your room to help you out. This way you will get hands-on help to get your baby to latch. Not going to lie I needed this really badly. My daughter wasn’t latching and I was so confused, but then when this sweet lady came in and showed me how it was supposed to be it all made much more sense. The first time you feel them latch on will make it easier for you to know how it feels if they are latching correctly and to fix it if they aren’t.
While you are tracking the baby’s feedings you will also have to track when they need to be changed and what they did. That means writing down when they went to the bathroom and whether it was just poop or pee or both. And even the color of poop. This way the nurses will know if your baby is eating enough.
Get ready for some black tar diapers. When changing your baby after birth they will have some black tar-like poop for a couple of days. It will stink. It will look gross. And it will change later. But you need to change their diapers. The nurses will help you out if needed because some ladies can’t get out of bed for a while after birth. And sometimes they don’t have someone with them the entire time afterward.
The hospital will supply you with diapers and wipes while you are at the hospital so that you don’t have to worry. Most hospitals (at least in the US) will use the Huggies brand and I am very happy they did because that is the only brand that seems to work for my daughter. They will also have some extra blankets to swaddle them in just in case the first one gets dirty. Since you know kids and babies can always manage to find a way to get dirty.
About 8 or 9 hours after giving birth
At this point, you will still be tracking your baby’s feedings and their diaper changes. You will probably start feeling better about how well you are doing taking care of your little newborn. Your body may also start feeling a bit more like it used to. This means you might be able to move around more comfortably and make it to the bathroom by yourself. You may even have taken a shower already or just about ready to shower now.
There will also be a lot of information coming at you that you may feel overwhelmed at times, but just breathe and take it one step at a time. They may start having you fill out paperwork at this time as well. That includes their birth certificate, social security paperwork, and hospital forms.
While you are occupied with all of these lovely things to fill out they will be doing a few more tests on your little one. The hardest one for me was when they needed to take blood from her foot to put on a blood test sheet. The reason being that they need a lot of blood to fill it out and they squeeze their foot a lot. Which of course will cause your precious little child to cry and scream until it is over.
The biggest pain a mother can have is hearing her own child cry in pain.
Another thing that happens around this time is the hospital photographer comes by to see if you want to take baby pictures. If you choose to do so they will start setting up an area in your room for the best pictures of your little one.
Note: These pictures can be very costly depending on if you want all of them, a photo movie of your little one, printed or on a flash drive. I personally loved all of the photos my photographer did and we decided to get all of them. To us, it was worth it.
Now if you don’t want them to take baby pictures then just let them know and they won’t. You can actually take amazing baby photos somewhere else or even by yourself at home. It is all up to you.
About 24 to 48 hours after birth
Some people are checking out of the hospital around this time. I was one of those. You might be staying longer depending on your situation. Now at this time my baby photos where not finished being processed so my photographer gave me his info and I gave him mine so that he could send them all to me.
While I was handling the last of the paperwork and packing everything up the nurses took my daughter and her car seat for the car seat test. Basically, they put your baby in your car seat and keep them in it for about a half-hour to an hour to check that they will be okay in it. They also check to make sure the car seat will work for your baby. All of this to make sure your baby will be fine going home.
Then once it is done you will be told to sit in a wheelchair and they will take you to the door where your husband or a family member has put the car to take you and baby home. I tried to refuse the wheelchair, but they won’t let you. Apparently, it is policy to be taken to the door in a wheelchair.
Once you get home after those 24 hours
Now that you are out of the hospital you will probably feel much more comfortable in your own home. But probably more worried about your baby. If you need a family member’s help because you are too worried then don’t be afraid to ask for help.
You will wake up when they cry at night. You will do a wonderful job. Believe in yourself. Once you get home you will be feeding your baby when they are hungry, changing their diapers, swaddling them, and taking care of yourself too.
We haven’t talked much about the care of your sore lady parts and I think it would be best to put into a different post only because this one is getting quite long. So head over here for postpartum care and if you want to hear my birthing story let me know in the comments and I will write a post all for it.
For the rest of the 24 hours, you will be quite busy, but you will start to notice a routine. Just try to stick with that routine your baby doing and it will get easier from there. My best advice is to sleep when your baby sleeps. This way you won’t be as sleep-deprived and because you really won’t get long hours of sleep for a long time.
Oh and don’t forget to eat! You need food too. Drink water as well.
I would love to hear from you all below in the comments so let me hear your thoughts. Or tell me what your hospital does differently.