Congratulations on your new bundle of joy!
Now let’s talk about what your body will go through the first 48 hours after you deliver your baby.
Heads up, please do not read if you’re easily grossed out! Or if you’re a guy just snooping. But if you’re reading this to support your partner after the birth of your new arrival, then stick around.
To the ladies about to go through this, this is not meant to scare but to simply inform you.
Oh! And one last thing, please forget about your dignity…You’re having a baby!
Medically speaking, the fourth stage of labor marks the beginning of postpartum. This is usually 1 to 2 hours after the birth of your baby.
It’s from here forth that you need to know what happens to your body and how to best care for it to promote healing maintain as much comfort as possible.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE UMBILICAL CORD AFTER BIRTH?
Yes, I know the Umbilical cord technically belongs to the baby, but this is the one thing that is commonly overlooked. Especially by new mommies.
After my daughter was born, I was so tired, excited and overwhelmed by the whole experience that I found myself agreeing with everything and anything the Midwife said.
To be honest, I was probably still high on gas and air. One thing recall is my daughter’s umbilical cord being cut way too quickly after birth.
I wasn’t really given a choice, nor was I asked if I wanted to Cord cut immediately or wait.
I didn’t really bother me too much then. But once the drugs wore off, I started feeling like the Cord cutting was unnecessarily rushed.
Unless there are any complications, it’s always a good idea to give you and your child a few minutes to still be attached to the umbilical cord.
Ask your eager midwife or overly excited partner to wait at least 5 minutes before cutting the cord.
This will allow the blood and any nutrients left in the cord to be delivered to the baby.
It also gives the baby a chance to have something ‘familiar’ while adjusting to the outside world. As for you, savor this moment as this is the LAST time you are physically attached to your baby.
RELATED POST: Umbilical Cord Care For Your Newborn Baby.
DELIVERY OF THE PLACENTA
Now we’re getting to the fun (and probably eeky) part!
I briefly mentioned the fourth stage of labor above. The delivery of the placenta is not commonly thought to be part of active labor. But it is. Oh! Believe me, it is. And it’s really important to think of the options you have when it comes to delivering your placenta.
When I had my daughter, I was clueless as to what happened after she was out. I was somehow expecting the baby to shoot out holding the placenta in hand.
Who knew that depending on the method you choose, the placenta can take up to an hour to deliver! Yep! I had that same look on my face when I found out.
So, the two methods of delivering your Placenta are:
This is when the delivery of the placenta is actively brought by way of induction.
- Your Midwife injects you, usually in your thigh with oxytocin in your thigh shortly after you give birth.
- This causes the womb to contract.
- Just like in ‘active labor’, the contractions of your womb cause the placenta to detach from your womb.
- This will allow the midwife to pull the cord which is attached to the placenta.
- And results in your placenta being actively delivered. And usually, happens within half an hour of your baby being born.
I know what you’re asking. Does it hurt? – In plain and simple English, yes, it hurts. Unless you’ve had an epidural during delivery, you’re likely to feel this process.
Active Management speeds up the delivery of your placenta and lowers the risk of Postpartum Haemorrhage (heavy bleeding after birth) But it increases the chances of making you feel nauseous and the afterbirth contractions are worse.
The second option is:
- With this option, no oxytocin injection is given after the baby is born.
- The Midwife allows womb contraction to happen naturally and the placenta detaches naturally. Although breastfeeding your baby speeds things ups a bit, this process can take up to an hour.
- Once the placenta comes away from the womb, you usually feel pressure on your bottom.
- This will be the cue for you to push the placenta out – like what you’ve just done with your baby. The push is not as hard though and should only be a few minutes.
In my opinion, this is the lesser painful of the two options because your placenta detaches naturally when it’s ready. However, if this doesn’t occur, or you start experiencing heavy bleeding, your midwife or doctor will advise you to switch to active management.
POSTPARTUM BLEEDING – HOW HEAVY IS IT?
With the delivery of the placenta comes the gash of bleeding! The bleeding is heavy so you will need to have adequate maternity pads to soak up the excess blood – yes, postpartum bleeding is FAR heavier than you monthly period!
If you don’t fancy changing your bedding every couple of hours, it might be a good idea to get some Disposable Underpads. Simply lay on these to catch any overflow.
Don’t forget to get some comfortable supportive non-leak maternity panties for those pads.
The bleeding is mostly heaviest in the first 48-72 hours. The flow will then even out and eventually stop. The whole cycle could take up to 6 weeks.
POSTPARTUM STOMACH CRAMPING
After the delivery of your baby, you will experience postpartum contractions known as afterpains. These resemble menstrual cramps and can be quite painful at the best of times.
This is basically your uterus contracting back into shape and moving to its usual position.
The pain should ease with time. However, over the counter painkillers or painkillers prescribed to you by your doctor will help.
A surprising thing that helped me was wearing a Postpartum Girdle. The pressure around your stomach from the girdle helps cope with the pain.
RELATED POST: How to Help Your Uterus Shrink Faster A Vaginal Birth
PHYSICAL IMBALANCE AND DIZZINESS AFTER DELIVERY
The heavy bleeding and the exhaustion from labor can make you feel dizzy when you stand. Make sure that you stand up slowly and only do so when you feel ready to.
Don’t forget you’ve just pushed a small human being out – your body will be off balance in every possible way. One thing that felt so strange to me was this hollow, empty feeling of where the baby once was.
It felt as though my stomach was hanging on loose strings. Well, it kind of is because your muscles are so stretched they can’t hold your stomach up into its normal position. This too, causes your body to be off balance.
Make sure to drink plenty of fluids to help with the dizziness and to get your organs functioning again.
Drinking water will also help you flush things out of your body!
GOING TO THE TO TOILET WITH POSTPARTUM STITCHES AND HAEMORRHOIDS
Coping With Episiotomy Stitches
Once you have delivered your baby, have a drink of water. In fact, have a couple of drinks – of water that is!
Most especially if you’ve had stitches after experiencing a tear or an episiotomy during childbirth.
Having stitches is not fun at all! And that’s the number one reason many new mommies are afraid to even use the toilet!
They sting (from peeing) and they hurt when you try to poo.
Water and Stool Softener is going to be your best friend. You will want to dilute your wee so it doesn’t sting as much – and drinking plenty of water will help with that.
Don’t use toilet tissue – for your front or back! Instead, use a perineal wash bottle for a quick clean. You will feel much cleaner after. For an even better feel, the Earth Mama Bottom Spray is Amazing!
I highly recommend eating foods that will stimulate your digestive passage. Intentionally add plenty of fruit and veg into your diet to get your bowels moving.
It’s important to start doing pelvic exercises as soon as possible to strengthen your pelvis and there’s no better time to do that than while toileting.
So, when you sit on the toilet for a wee, try releasing your wee a little at a time.
With all that pushing, you are likely to develop postpartum Haemorrhoids. And like the stitches, Haemorrhoids are no fun either.
A good quality Hemorrhoid Cream will help with the discomfort and promote recovery.
Don’t rush or strain to open your bowels. Take your time.
DOWN BELOW HYGIENE
Ok, now that we’ve cover Ithat topic, let’s talking about getting yourself clean!
After long, intense hours of screaming, sweating and pushing (in that order), your body will be worse for wear and you will want to freshen up.
While still in the delivery room, you will be offered a bed bath – personally, I just don’t think this cuts it.
It’s also not the same as having some water down below.
To dry yourself, simply pat your down below with a cheap, BUT CLEAN towel. Do not rub – this will only make things worse. Besides, you’ll be too sore and delicate for that.
Don’t worry if you are unable to get up for a wash. You can have a bed bath (or wipe down) and use the Earth Mama Bottom Spray – Seriously, this stuff is pretty good!
Make sure you change your Pads regularly in between washes.
RELATED POSTS: How to Take an Effective Postpartum Sitz Bath
This should go without saying, but make sure you wash your hands BEFORE AND AFTER EACH CHANGE!
CHALLENGES OF BREASTFEEDING YOUR NEWBORN BABY
It’s important to encourage skin to skin contact. You will notice that as soon as you place your baby on your chest, she will start making her way up to your breast.
This is baby instinct. Putting your baby to your breast immediately after birth is beneficial to both you and your baby.
Breastfeeding also stimulates and aids the healing of your uterus It also helps stimulate your sensory in your brain to release the milk. The time it takes for the milk to come in differs with mothers and babies.
Don’t get discouraged if you feel that nothing is coming out just continue putting your baby to your breast. Your breasts might feel a little tender or sore, applying some Nipple Cream and using a warm or cold breast compress will help.
Its ok struggle with feeding the first few hours or even days – many mommies actually struggle with this.
Just keep trying this should subside after a couple of days and once your baby gets a ‘good latch.’
POSTPARTUM HORMONAL IMBALANCE
You know those hormones that have been driving your crazy for the past 9 months? Well, I’m sorry to tell you that you don’t ‘give birth’ to them when you deliver the baby. Unfortunately, the hormonal imbalance will leave you emotionally unstable!
The emotional rollercoaster will continue going. You will cry with joy, cry even more with fear, and then cry some more because you can’t stop crying and you don’t know why you’re crying.
You may then begin to feel moody and irritable – Lack of sleep is probably the main culprit here – But don’t worry, its normal. Your body will begin to try regulating your hormones and bring them back to balance.
It won’t be so surprising if reading this post alone tires out! But in all honesty, labour is exhausting. Every bit of it is exhausting. And this is only the beginning.
Don’t be scared to ask your visitors to leave early so you can have some much-needed rest especially after the first 24 hours after birth.
You will be awake half the night either checking on your baby or tending to your baby. Sleep will be non-existence. So, do yourself a favour and start resting Now. You will be grateful for it later.
Right next to exhaustion come hunger! You’re likely to be hungry and thirsty after delivery. Your body energy will be low. any energy you have will be pure adrenaline! so make sure you eat. have some toast, fruit – a hot meal – because your body needs it.
I hope this gives you some insight into what happens to your body after giving birth. It’s so easy to focus on just the baby and forget about yourself. But your wellbeing is just important as your baby’s.
What surprised you the most from this post?
- 8 Ways to Prevent Tearing During Childbirth
- Caring For Your Body Postpartum
- How Pregnancy Changes Your Body
- How to Speed Up Recovery From a Vaginal Birth