What will happen immediately after the birth?
So, you’re almost there, your baby could arrive at any time. Now is the time to find out what will happen immediately after your baby is born.
The first thing you will probably want to do, if you can, is hold your baby and get that lovely skin-to-skin contact. This moment is great for bonding and also gives your baby comfort and warmth. It might also be a good time to try your first breastfeed.
What your baby will look like
As soon as your baby is born, if it is safe to do so, the midwife or doctor will pass her to you with the umbilical cord still attached. Your baby will be wet and she is likely to be covered in vernix (a thick creamy substance) mixed with some of your blood. However, you can ask the midwife to wipe your baby and wrap her before you have your first cuddle. Your baby won’t be washed immediately as it is important she is kept warm. Most newborns look a little wrinkled and maybe even a bit blue. Don’t worry, all of this is normal.
Some babies are born with a little mucus in their nose or mouth, and this will need to be cleared quickly. Your baby may also need a little help to kick-start their breathing, so the medical team may just move away so that oxygen can be given to your baby. Don’t worry, this is very usual, and as soon as the team are happy, your baby will be brought to you.
Your midwife will have discussed with you whether you want your baby to have a dose of vitamin K when born. This prevents a rare bleeding disorder or haemorrhagic disease. Usually this is given to your baby via a single injection but you can choose oral applications, which will be need to administered in several doses.
Cutting the umbilical cord
While you hold your baby the umbilical cord will be clamped and cut. If you have a partner, they may be offered to chance to cut the cord.
A paediatrician or specially trained midwife will perform a thorough check of your baby. This will ensure that she is fit and well. You baby will also be weighed and some hospitals will measure her as well.
If you gave birth in hospital, two name bands will be fitted to your baby’s ankle and wrist, which identifies them uniquely.
What will happen to you immediately after birth
As you hold your baby you will be feeling a range of emotions. You might be elated, excited, calm, tired and possibly weepy. You may also feel a little hungry and thirsty.
Your midwife will want to check your wellbeing after labour. This includes a check for blood loss, to ascertain that your uterus is properly contracting, your pulse and blood pressure.
Repairing your body after birth
If your labour has been uncomplicated you may not need any treatment, but you will need attention if you have experienced tearing or an episiotomy during the final stages of birth.
This may mean you require stitches. The medical team will carry this out as soon as possible after birth. You will remain conscious and be able to continue to hold and get to know your new baby.
If you need any pain relief to cope with the discomfort of tears or episiotomy, you will also be given the appropriate medication.
Lastly, you will also be washed down before being transferred to the postnatal ward.
Blood loss – lochia and PPH
You should be prepared for a few weeks of blood loss from your womb after birth. This is called lochia and is perfectly normal. It is a good idea to have some sanitary towels available.
In extremely rare cases, a mother may experience postpartum haemorrhage (PPH). Primary or immediate PPH is heavy bleeding from the vagina within 24 hours of birth. Secondary or delayed PPH is delayed bleeding up to six weeks after the birth.
PPH happens when your womb has not contracted back as it should, the placenta has not fully detached or if there is an infection to the lining of your womb. All mothers are offered a preventative injection of oxytocin as your baby is born to stimulate the contractions to expel the placenta.
Coping with discomfort
For a while you may be a little sore and find it uncomfortable to sit down and go to the loo. You may get a stinging sensation when you pass urine and in some cases you may become constipated. If the problem persists inform your doctor as you may need to be treated for a urinary infection.
Your body will already be changing in readiness to feed your baby. Your breasts will swell and the first signs of colustrum, a thick yellow liquid, will begin to leak from your nipples.
The medical team will help you to breastfeed as soon as possible after the birth. Sometimes, it can be difficult to get started, especially if you are tired after a long labour, but help and advice will be given as your baby learns how to latch on and feed.
If you have your baby at home
Having your baby at home means that you may need to be a bit more prepared as you won’t have all the support available that a hospital offers.
However, things can be a little less rushed after a home birth. You will have a midwife in full attendance who is able to cut the cord, stitch up any tears, and carry out a check on the baby. Your midwife will be able to administer vitamin K and deliver the placenta. If a problem arises with you or your baby you will be transferred to hospital for attention.
Letting everyone know the news
Of course, one of the joys is letting your friends and family know that your baby has been delivered safely and all is well with you both. Your partner may be able to help do this and maybe send a photo of your new arrival to those eagerly awaiting news.