Immediately after birth
Meeting your baby for the first time can cause many different emotions in new parents. After months of build up to the birth, you may feel elation and an instant rush of love but don’t be concerned if you initially feel dazed and disconnected, or have concerns over whether the baby is alright.
Making an emotional connection with your baby can take time. It is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel about your newborn and that for some parents it can take quite a while to adjust to the fact that labour is over and their new baby has arrived.
What happens straight after birth
Skin-to-skin contact After your baby is born, so long as he/she is well, you will be encouraged to have immediate skin-to-skin contact. This type of contact is known to be beneficial to both mother and baby by: • regulating your baby’s breathing, heart rate, temperature and blood glucose levels • soothing and calming your baby • encouraging early breastfeeding and increased milk production • supporting longer term breastfeeding success. Even if your baby needs help with breathing after birth, or to be seen by a neonatal doctor, you will be offered skin-to-skin contact as soon as practically possible.
You: straight after birth
After your placenta has been delivered, your midwife or doctor will ask to check and see if you have any tears to the perineum and/or vagina that might require stitches. If you do need stitches, your midwife or doctor will explain this to you.
Before stitching your midwife or doctor will ensure the area is numbed with local anaesthetic, or if you have an epidural already, this will be topped up. Most tears will be repaired in your birthing room, more significant tears require repair in an operating theatre. Tears are repaired using dissolvable stitches and normally heal within a month of birth.
All women will lose some blood after giving birth, this happens because the area of the womb where the placenta was attached takes time to heal. Bleeding may be heavy immediately after the birth, but will reduce significantly over the next few days and weeks. Bleeding will normally last between two and six weeks. Your midwife will check on your bleeding regularly straight after birth.
Your baby: straight after birth
During skin-to-skin contact with your baby, he or she may show early feeding cues. Your midwife will support you in feeding your baby shortly after birth. Some babies want to feed very soon after birth, whereas others take several hours to show signs that they are ready to feed.
Your baby’s weight will be checked, and a midwife or neonatal doctor will check him/her from top-to-toe to exclude any major abnormalities. Your baby will be offered a supplement of Vitamin K.
In some rare cases, your baby may need to be transferred to the neonatal unit for a period of time for specialised treatment. This is more common with babies born prematurely, very small, with an infection or through a particularly complicated birth. If this happens to you, you will have plenty of support and help from your maternity team.