What happens straight after the birth?
You may instinctively want to cuddle your newborn baby ‘skin-to-skin’ straight after birth. This is an instinct supported by scientific research which has found that this early skin-to-skin contact has important benefits for both mums and babies, helping you both to recover from the birth and get to know one another.
You will produce a further surge of Oxytocin, the love hormone, which helps with bonding, birthing the placenta and preparing for breastfeeding, if you wish.
Your body will adjust your temperature to meet your baby’s needs to ensure baby keeps warm, a hat and soft blanket will keep baby cosy in skin to skin. Baby will be soothed by hearing your heartbeat, alert and keen to meet their family.
Delivery of the placenta
Following the birth of baby, the placenta will be delivered. You can choose to birth your placenta yourself under the influence of your natural oxytocin or artificial oxytocin, given by an injection in your thigh. Your midwife will help guide you in this choice at the time, depending on the birth and whether other medication has been used in the labour.
Immediate postnatal care
Your midwife will use this time to check your body post-labour. For example, she will check your blood loss and feel how your uterus is contracting, take your blood pressure and pulse.
She will also check your perineum for tears and will put in stitches, if both you and the midwife feel this is necessary. You will be given a local anaesthetic for any stitches. These will then dissolve a few days later. You will be encouraged to drink plenty of water and have a cup of tea and some toast. Once you feel ready, you will be assisted up to the shower and to the toilet.
If you have had an epidural, it will take several hours to regain feeling in your lower body, so you will not be able to get up straight away, so you will have a catheter in your bladder to drain your urine. You will be assisted with a wash in bed. Once the epidural has worn off, the catheter will be removed and you can get up to shower.
First baby checks
Following an hour of skin to skin and a first feed, your baby will be weighed, have their head measured, have a top to toe check by the midwife and an injection of vitamin K, should you be agreeable. Baby can then spend time in skin to skin with your birth companion or get dressed in vest, sleepsuit, hat and cardigan. Then have a sleep in the cot, or further cuddles.