What to expect after giving birth

The first 48 hours with your new baby

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  • What to expect after giving birth

    Labour is over and your gorgeous new baby is in your arms. But what now? Here's what to expect for the first 48 hours (or so) with your new baby .

  • Straight after the birth:

    You'll be wheeled back to the postnatal ward so that you can rest, recover and get to know your baby. She'll probably be in a cot, like a little plastic fish tank, right beside your bed. She may look like a purple, wrinkly little alien, but she's all yours, and chances are it'll be love at first sight. Her head may look a little bruised and misshapen from the delivery but this is common and will soon settle down.

  • Your first bath:

    If you have a bath or shower straight after labour, take your partner with you in case you feel faint. If you had a C-section, a nurse will help you freshen up in bed until you can walk to the shower, usually within 24 hours

  • First trip to the loo:

    The prospect may be daunting, but don't put if off, as holding things in can make matters worse. Some women don't poo for several days because everything slows down in that area. Drink lots of water and eat lots of fruit, veg and fibre. If you haven't gone by day five, tell your midwife - you may need laxatives.

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  • Blood loss:

    After the birth you'll have a heavy bleed, called lochia. It will get lighter, disappearing completely by four to six weeks. You'll need a good supply of maternity pads - not tampons, as they could cause an infection. Clots are quite common, but if you're passing large ones, tell your midwife.

  • Your body after birth:

    Your poor tum will look like a deflated balloon in the first week or so, but it will get back to normal (well, sort of). If you feel sore sitting down, your midwife can give you painkillers until you feel more comfortable - usually in a few days. If it's really painful, ask your midwife to check you're healing properly.

  • Your stay in hospital:

    If everything's gone smoothly, you could go home after just six hours. However, with a first baby, it's more common to stay overnight. Your partner will be sent home, buy you may be able to pay for a family room. If you're had an assisted delivery (forceps or ventouse) or an epidural, you'll probably stay at least one night. If you've had a Caesarean, you'll probably stay at least three nights. You may also stay longer if your baby is premature or needs special care, you've suffered pre-eclampsia or another complication, or either of you shows any signs of infection.

  • Your emotions:

    Tiredness, soreness, hormonal upheavals - the early days are an emotional rollercoaster. Keep visits short, especially around day three, when the baby blues may kick in. It's normal to burst into tears or feel like strangling your partner. Be honest about how you're feeling - tell your partner, your midwife or your health visitor.

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  • Recovering at home:

    You've been through a lot, so don't try and be Supermum! Take the phone off the hook, turn your mobile off, and sleep when the baby sleeps. If your family visits, ask them to help so you can rest. It's vital for your physical and emotional recovery. Let your visitors make tea for you for a change!

Last updated on 17 April 2009