10 Surprising things that happen after childbirth

Your Newborn Survival Guide to what comes after childbirth.

As you get closer to your delivery date, you’ve written your birth plan, read up on childbirth and are feeling as prepared as you can be for labour. But do you know what to expect in the first few days after delivery? We’re revealing a few surprising facts now, so you’ll know what to expect later.

1. Pushing doesn’t end with the birth of your baby

As you put your all into the final push that gets your baby out into the world, you think you can finally relax. But wait, is the nurse telling you to push again? No, you’re not having twins. You just need to give one final push for the placenta. Now you’re done.

2. You’ll get the shakes

Chills, shaking or feeling jittery are quite common immediately after childbirth and can be caused by a few different things. It could be the hormonal changes that happen right after delivery, a reaction to the anaesthesia or due to the release of endorphins. Whatever the reason, the shaking should subside in a few minutes or a few hours at most.

3. It’s likely you’ll need stitches

Even if your doctor didn’t do an episiotomy, there is usually some minor vaginal tearing, especially for first-time mums, so you might need a few stitches. If you opt for an epidural you’re unlikely to feel the tearing or stitching. If you’re not on pain relief, the doctor will give you shot to numb the area first. The shot will still hurt though.

4. Your baby might not want to feed

All the baby books will tell you that you need to start breastfeeding right after delivery. But your baby may not feel like feeding for the first 15–30 minutes. You should still hold your baby close, skin-to-skin for a few minutes and take the time to say hi, even if they’re not interested in feeding.

5. There’ll be swelling

You expect some soreness, pain and discomfort after a vaginal birth but most women aren’t prepared for the swelling that also occurs. Your labia can triple in size, which can be alarming if you don’t expect it. Cleansing with water, instead of toilet paper and having sitz baths will help. Icing the area for 10–20 minutes will also help ease the swelling and numb the pain.

6. You’ll bleed for weeks

Most women aren’t really prepared for the bleeding and are shocked by how heavy the initial bleeding can be. It’s normal to bleed for 4–6 weeks but if you are concerned have a chat with your doctor.

common hair problems

7. Your hair will fall out

It’s okay you’re not going bald. The hair loss is normal and temporary. It’s all part of the hormonal adjustments your body is going through and you’ll have your crowning glory back in a few months.

8. You’ll be hot

You’ll find yourself sweating a lot more, especially at night. It’s how your body gets rid of the extra fluid you retained during pregnancy. It should taper off after a few weeks as your hormones settle down.

9. You won’t be allowed to drive

Many doctors will advise you not the drive for at least 2 weeks. If you’ve had a caesarean section or an episiotomy, which are considered major surgeries, there’s a danger that your stitches might burst or some other complication might arise while you’re behind the wheel.

10. You might hate your husband

Don’t worry, you’re not the only new mum who has had violent thoughts about their partner. It all comes back to those pesky hormones again. They’re messing with your mood and it doesn’t help that you’re exhausted and sleep deprived in those first few weeks. Your husband’s just the easiest target for your crankiness. The best way to deal with the blues is to make sure you’re taking the time to look after yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help so you can. Getting enough sleep, drinking lots of fluids, eating well and taking a time-out to get a pedicure or catch up with the girls are just as, if not more, important.

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