The time has finally come, your little one is here! Woohoo!!!!
Wait….now what? Often we spend so much time preparing for the baby that we forget to think about what happens when they arrive. When you are in the hospital, nurses come and go, along with your sleep, your hunger, and maybe a few memories from sleep deprivation, haha. In other words, a lot is going on and this blog is to help you prepare and understand why a few of them are happening. Here are 5 things that happen in the hospital after birth.
1.Baby’s Apgar test
An apgar test is given to newborns soon after birth and then again a few minutes later. The purpose of the test is to check if there are any areas where specific medical care may be needed for your newborn. They look at 5 different factors when conducting the test:
2) heart rate
4) muscle tone
Each area is then given a score of 0, 1, or 2. The higher the score the better the newborn tolerated the birth and the better they are doing during the transition into the world. If they have a lower score they will be monitored and your doctors will discuss if any additional support is needed before they are released from the hospital.
After delivery you will experience vaginal discharge and bleeding also known as lochia. Lochia is a combination of leftover blood, mucus, and some remaining tissue from the lining of the uterus that needs to be removed. Bleeding varies from person to person but typically lasts for a few weeks with a decrease in amount day to day. Refer to the visual above for a general guideline but remembering that you know your body best. Your nurse will go over what to expect as well BUT a general rule of thumb is to not be concerned unless you see a blood clot release that is the size of a golf ball or bigger. A few items to have on hand to help with this process:
-depends or your choice of adult diapers
-pee pads to put on your bed, couch, etc. incase you bleed through
-extra peri bottle in each bathroom to help you gently clean up
-iron and vitamin C rich foods to help replenish your nutrient stores.
-talk with your partner about what to expect so they understand your needs. This can include when and who you want to visit, the limited clothes you will be wearing in the first few weeks, how long you feel comfortable being out of the house, etc.
3. Fundal massage
Yay for a massage!!! Unfortunately, this is not the kind of massage you are typically excited about that creates a feeling of relaxation and comfort. Nonetheless, it is an important one! A fundal massage will happen (multiple times) after baby is born and will be performed by your nurse. They will find the top of your uterus and begin a massage to encourage your uterus to contract and help prevent postpartum hemorrhaging. The goal is to bring your uterus back down by removing any blood and clots left in the uterus. They will be feeling for the location of your uterus and the firmness of it. Feel free to ask your nurse to show you the steps if you are interested in feeling it yourself as well. Although I wish there were tips to prepare for this part, I can’t think of many. Just remember that it is an important part of your postpartum journey and there is reason and purpose behind it, TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE SAFE AND HEALTHY before leaving the hospital.
4. First Bowel Movement
Oh yes, we are going there. POOP time! Poop is a taboo topic in our culture but is crucial to our physical and mental health. In this post we are going to focus specifically on the first postpartum poop but keep in mind that your gut and digestion is the foundation of your overall health. During pregnancy, your hormones fluctuate and change affecting your digestive system. One hormone being progesterone, causes your digestive system to slow down as it creates muscle relaxation and pulls all the necessary nutrients out for you and baby. This could be why you experienced constipation or hemorrhoids. The hormone change contributes to a slower digestive system afterwards as well. The fear of the first postpartum poop is typically because you are sore and/or tore during labor. However, your prior diet and medications during labor can also affect your experience with bowel movements after labor.
In other words, there are a lot of factors that can contribute to a painless postpartum bowel movement, but do the best you can. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a smooth postpartum bowel movement.
-Stay hydrated!!! During pregnancy, delivery and postpartum.
-Eat a fiber rich diet pre delivery.
-Accept the stool softeners offered by your nurse.
-Did I say, STAY HYDRATED yet?
-Eat easily digestible foods and healthy fats postpartum; avocado, bone broth, soups, nut butters.
-Use a squatty potty or other support for positioning.
5. Breastfeeding Support
Breastfeeding! If you choose this path, breastfeeding can start immediately after baby is born and is what I recommend to clients. This does not always come easy though and that is why THERE ARE SUPPORTS to help you. Hospitals have lactation consultants in house but often they will not be available during your first few feeds. However, many labor and delivery nurses are knowledgeable in this realm and will be able to help you get started. You will be shown various options to feed; lying down, football hold, dangle feeding, and more depending on the needs of you and baby. There are also a plethora of tools to help support your milk to come in as well as nipple support such as nipple shields, teas, and massage. Keep in mind that you and your baby are both learning a new skill. It does not need to be perfect right now, be patient with yourself.
Bringing your baby into the world can be pure magic but also a bit scary. I hope this list of 5 things that happen in the hospital after birth helps you feel supported and prepared for what to expect the first few days. For more tips and tricks follow us on instagram, @heart.fed