What to Expect After Giving Birth

Congratulation parents! If you are reading this, you are probably near the due date and super excited to meet your little one. If you are having your first baby, you might be all prepped, planned, and perhaps anxious about what will happen. You have probably attended nursing classes together and read all about how the birthing process happens. However, whether you plan to have a home birth, water birth, or hospital birth, there are some things you should expect to experience right after you have finally delivered your baby. Everyone’s birth experience is unique; therefore, it’s useful to get a sense of what happens in various situations so that expectant parents can prepare.

1. Baby’s first breath

Babies usually cry within moments after delivery as their lungs fill up with air; however, don’t worry when you don’t hear them cry right away. The medical staff will quickly rub the baby’s body and clear the baby’s respiratory tract and lungs (in case the baby inhales fecal matter, meconium). However, if any delay still occurs along with other emergency signs, the staff is trained to give the baby the necessary medical attention. Although it is rare, around 7 out of every 1000 babies suffer from a birth injury as a result of medical negligence. You can be entitled to financial compensation if medical malpractice caused your child some physical or emotional ailment; one such birth injury is cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy might occur when the baby’s brain doesn’t get enough oxygen during a difficult birth and is usually diagnosed later in a child’s life. You can contact a cerebral palsy lawyer to determine whether medical malpractice caused your child to suffer from this condition.

2. Cutting the umbilical cord

The umbilical cord will be clamped and cut within a few minutes or seconds after delivery. Your spouse or partner may be present and choose to do it themselves. This is a memorable moment, and its best captured in precious photographs. Studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that the umbilical cord be cut after it stops pulsating, which may be anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds. That is because it will boost hemoglobin and iron levels in the newborn.

3. Skin-to-skin contact

Another special moment to look forward to is skin-to-skin contact with your newborn right after delivery. This will regulate the baby’s heart rate and body temperature and is essential for the mother and baby’s bond. In a vaginal delivery, this is almost immediately done; in a cesarean section, there might be a slight delay while the OB stitches you up. Birth is traumatic for the baby, too, and lying bare on your bare skin almost immediately helps the baby calm down. Another interesting fact is that if the mother is not up for skin-to-skin, the father or partner may do it too!

4. The Third stage of delivery

Delivering or passing the placenta is often called the third stage of delivery. During a typical birth, the placenta is delivered after the umbilical cord stops pulsating. That is usually the time when you feel the urge to push the placenta out, but don’t worry; it’s nothing like delivering a baby. At other times, doctors will assist you in delivering the placenta by administering an injection that causes one big contraction causing the placenta to remove itself from the womb and come out easily. In a cesarean section, the doctor will remove it surgically.

5. Vital tests and vaccinations

Vitamin K injection is often given to newborns as it helps prevent a rare bleeding disorder known as hemorrhagic disease. Are you unsure if you want an injection that early for your baby? No problem! You can opt for Vitamin K drops instead, which are the same thing but are administered orally in multiple doses. Ask your midwife or OB-GYN for more information. Moreover, eye drops or antibiotic ointments are given to newborns soon after delivery and are required by law in the U.S. They prevent blindness which can occur due to infections that could have affected the baby during birth.

The baby is also taken for vital weight, length, and other measurements. Vital tests are also done to check newborns’ heart rate, muscle tone, breathing, skin color, and reflexes. These are called Apgar tests, and they assess the baby’s condition post-delivery.

6. Nursing/Feeding

After the baby is cleaned up, wrapped, and cleared from any medical emergencies, it will be handed over for a nursing session. It’s usually done earlier in vaginal deliveries than in cesarean sections. However, the sooner it happens, the better your brain will be stimulated to initiate milk production and “let down” feed for the baby. Also, it will help give clues to the baby to help him latch on. The first few feeds consist of colostrum, a thick fluid loaded with immunoglobulins and amino acids essential to building immunity in newborns. This will be sufficient for the baby for the next few days while the milk supply comes in. Lactation consultants are always available for new mothers and will help you and your baby get familiar with the process.

7. Mother’s evaluation

Besides ensuring that the baby is delivered safely and healthy, the medical staff will also ensure that the mother is doing well. Immediately after birth, in a natural birth, they will examine your vaginal area and determine whether you need any stitches. Small tears may be left to heal independently, while larger ones will be stitched up. But don’t worry too much about that because they will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area first, and you will feel nothing more than some light vaginal pressure. In a cesarean section, you might get severe shivers right after birth, even in summer! Again don’t worry about that, as you will be given hot blankets, blowers, and whatever you need to feel comfortable. Pain medications and any other assistance in sitting up and getting comfortable will always be readily available.


As important as it is to be well-informed and prepared for birth, you must understand that things sometimes don’t go as planned. For example, you might have opted for a home birth, but certain conditions might have made a hospital birth necessary. Nevertheless, you and the baby must be doing well at the end of the day. Medical assistance and support from friends and family will help make the birthing experience easier. Everyone has a unique birthing experience, and you will too. The most essential thing to keep in mind is that as soon you meet your new bundle of joy, all the pain will be worthwhile.

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