How you’ll be feeling a few hours after labour

Our midwife explains how to recover after your delivery

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Freshening up

By now you probably feel like you’d love a long warm bath or a shower. Some units have en suite rooms so you can just pop next door for a wash, but others are communal, in which case, your midwife or partner can walk with you and help you to run a bath or step into the shower. Your midwife will help you find your dressing gown and wash bag, and your partner and baby can stay in with you if you’d prefer.

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If you’ve had an epidural and haven’t quite got the use of your legs back yet, or you’re feeling completely wiped out, your midwife or maternity support worker will help you. You can clean the bits that you can reach and she can help clean the bits you can’t (or don’t want to).

Visiting time

With clean teeth and a brush through your hair, you’ll be ready to greet your visitors but only if you’re feeling up to it. Many units prefer visitors to see you on the postnatal ward rather than the labour ward, although your birth partner can come and go. Check the visiting times as well, as some people can travel a long way, only to be turned away at the door. Don’t feel guilty if you’re not up to seeing anyone yet, you may just want to recover, or have private time getting to know your baby and getting used to breastfeeding.

Re-fuelling

It’s not surprising that women feel ravenous after the birth. Traditionally, women get given tea and toast, though you might fancy something more substantial. If you’ve given birth at home, you might all be celebrating with a pizza delivery and a bottle of something fizzy. If you want your favourite food in hospital, plan ahead and pack it in your hospital bag. That special brand of chocolate bar, or fruit salad can really perk you up.

Toilet time

Don’t wait too long before emptying your bladder after the birth, it not only confirms that everything’s in working order, but keeping your bladder empty helps control bleeding. The uterus needs as much space as possible to contract properly and if your bladder’s full it takes up space. If you’ve had a catheter in, it’ll be removed once the epidural’s worn off, as long as you’re feeling well. If it stings when you wee, pour some warm water between your legs as you go. Your midwife can find you a jug and show you how. As for your bowels, don’t expect to have a poo today. You may well have had one before or during labour!

Moving around

Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit wobbly when you walk. You could be tired, hungry or even have lost a fair bit of blood. It’s best that someone keeps an eye on you and walks with you, just to begin with. If you have stitches they might feel sore, or, if you’ve had an instrumental birth, you’ll feel bruised for a couple of days.

Your body will probably look like a large, and now deflated, balloon. It’s done the most incredible job growing and giving birth to your baby, and won’t ping back into place immediately.

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A change of scenery

Around now you might be feeling ready for a wander. Your midwife will check your blood pressure, pulse and temperature and your blood loss, and obviously ask you how you’re doing before you move areas. If you’re on a labour ward, you and your baby might be transferred to the postnatal ward. This is usually in a wheelchair, depending how far away it is. If everything’s OK, you might prefer to go straight home from the labour ward, and your community midwife will then take over your care.

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