The First Day After Giving Birth: A Survival Guide


by Ruth McCready September 09, 2016

You’ve given birth. Now what? 

If you’re just about to give birth to your first child, you may be wondering how you’re going to get through those first 24 hours. You’ve probably heard horror stories and misty-eyed retellings in equal measure, so we’re going to give it to you straight.

 Congratulations! The hard part’s done! Whether you’ve given birth the normal way or have undergone a caesarean, the waiting and waddling is over. Well.... the waiting is.

 The first moment holding the baby is often indescribable. Not everybody is thunderstruck by their newborn baby, though. Many mothers do not bond with their child immediately. If this happens to you it’s natural to feel worried but you’re far from alone. Given a little time, you’ll soon be cooing over your squishy little progeny like everyone else.  

Your first concern shortly after holding your baby will probably be filling their little tummy, and it’s only fair to warn you that breastfeeding isn’t for the fainthearted. If you opt for breast, don’t feel like a failure if you have a real struggle to begin with. Some mothers and babies have no issues, but if it’s tricky, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Don’t be afraid to ask advice from a midwife, post partum doula, or lactation consultant. A hospital often has a breastfeeding specialist on hand to help you through any problems. There are also some great breastfeeding resources online.

 ***Although enormous pressure is put on modern women to breastfeed, it isn’t a sign of weakness to opt for bottle feeding. There are benefits and pitfalls to both methods, so don’t be surprised if you end up changing your standpoint on how to feed. ****

 The first diaper change should arrive before too long. Here you’ll encounter the meconium. Baby’s First Bowel MovementTM is the vile matter that’s laid quietly in their guts during gestation. It’s dark, smelly and very sticky. On the plus side, it’s usually small! If you have to ask for assistance with a nappy change, don’t feel embarrassed. You won’t be the first and if you’ve never been around young children, you might need some tips.

 It isn’t just the baby who needs some looking after the first day after birth. You’ll at least have some soreness, and you may have some stitches in some delicate areas. Also, be ready for the lochia, which is rather like a long, heavy period. In addition you may experience low moods as your hormones re-adjust with the end of pregnancy. This is definitely a time to go easy on yourself physically and emotionally.

 When the end of the day comes, you’ll be exhausted, but your baby will probably not know that night-time’s for sleep. Your baby will if nothing else wake you for night feeds, which when their stomachs are tiny are frequent. For this reason, it might be a good idea to try and sneak in forty winks in visiting hours so someone else can look after the newborn. You may well be grateful if the night proves eventful.

 By this time you’ll probably have settled on how you’re going to lie your little cherub in the crib. (Always make sure you're laying baby down on their back.) Ask the nurses to give you a lesson in swaddling.  They're easily some of the most qualified baby swaddling pros on the planet and have all the tips and tricks.  I can't stress enough, to take advantage of these swaddling mavens.

 The first nights are often sleepless because some babies breathe really weirdly. With such small respiratory passages, they can make some very odd snuffling sounds in their sleep, so don’t panic if they sound like a pig drowning in pudding. To complicate matters, they aren’t very good and clearing mucus which can obstruct their breathing, so it’s smart to call for help if you have any doubts. All in all, the first night can be a little nerve-wracking.

 

Roll on Day 2!

 

Well done, you’ve survived the first day after giving birth. We promise it’s going to get easier. You’ll soon be slinging diapers with your eyes shut and bouncing the baby to sleep like a pro.

 

In the meantime, follow this blog for more information about the first days with your new baby and other helpful tips.

 




Ruth McCready
Ruth McCready

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