After you’ve delivered your baby, you’ll be taken to your room.
Your hospital stay
Normally, your baby will come with you to your room, unless you ask for extra time to rest, or if they need special care. In a public hospital, your baby will be in the room with you.
Your obstetrician or midwife will probably want to monitor you to make sure no problems develop. A breastfeeding consultant can help you if you need assistance, especially if it’s your first baby.
You can expect to stay in the hospital for 4 to 48 hours. Some private hospitals prefer you to stay for 3 to 4 nights.
You’ll need to make an appointment with your obstetrician or midwife for a check-up 6 weeks after you leave the hospital. In the meantime, you should visit your GP, paediatrician or baby health clinic for a check-up during the first week after the birth and again when your baby is 10 to 14 days old. If your baby has had any health problems, such as unexpected weight loss or jaundice (yellowing of the skin), you may need to see a paediatrician more often in the first few weeks.
Watching out for problems
Vaginal bleeding is normal after childbirth and it can be quite heavy. Have some maternity sanitary pads on hand. But if you pass any blood clots, you should keep them to show to your doctor. If you have a sudden increase in blood loss, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Trouble passing urine
Urinating may be difficult at first because you can’t feel what you’re doing. If urinating is painful due to stiches or grazes, it may be easier to do it in the shower, or by tipping water over the area as you sit on the toilet. Drinking plenty of water will dilute your urine so it’s less irritating.
You may feel constipated, but try not to strain on the toilet as it can cause, or worsen, haemorrhoids and put a strain on any stitches you have. A stool softener and high fibre diet may help. You can also try putting a small footstool in front of the toilet and resting your feet on it.
If you have pain from stitches or grazes, ask your obstetrician or midwife’s advice about the best type of painkiller to take. Be cautious as some painkillers can enter your breast milk and affect your baby.
Baby blues and post-natal depression
Emotional changes affect around 80% of new mothers, starting around 3 days after birth. Most women recover but around 10% to 20% go on to develop postnatal depression. If you think you might be affected, it’s important to get help early. Talk to your GP or child health nurse.
Mastitis is an infection that commonly affects breastfeeding mothers. You may have a red, hard, hot area on your breast that doesn’t clear with breastfeeding. You may also have flu-like symptoms such as aches and pains, shivers and a high temperature. Mastitis can be treated with antibiotics. If you think you have mastitis you should make an urgent appointment to see your doctor. Massaging towards the nipple, and feeding the baby on that side first can help to drain the infection.
See your doctor as soon as possible if you experience:
- increased blood loss, with or without clots
- blood loss that starts to smell
- increasing pain
- severe headache that doesn’t ease up (following an epidural)
- difficulty passing urine or a bowel motion
- increased tenderness, drainage or swelling of your perineum
- symptoms of mastitis
- emotional problems.