The First 24 Hours
You've just delivered your baby, but now what?! What happens during those first 24 hours to you and your baby? What do you wish you had known, but didn't!? We asked StorkNet members to share with us their experiences during those first amazing 24 hours, and here are some of their very helpful responses:
- Be Aware of PPD
- Conflicting Emotions After A Difficult Birth
- Limit Visitors
- Physical Discomforts - Swelling, Stitches, Bleeding, etc
- Breastfeeding Challenges
- Special Moments With Your New Baby
1. Be Aware Of PPD
Siobhan: With both my children, I experienced post-partum depression for about a month. The first twenty four hours were much like the first few weeks - exhausting, overwhelming. It seemed surreal, such a responsibility, my son kept crying and I couldn't catch up on the sleep I needed, and if he stopped crying, I was so wired I couldn't fall asleep.
[Read more about PPD]
2. Conflicting Emotions After A Difficult Birth
Bryar: When I gave birth it was painful and I lost a lot of blood. All that first night she cried, and cried, and cried. I cried, too, because all I wanted to do was curl up in a little ball and be by myself so I could concentrate on willing myself to get better. I felt very frustrated and alone that night and underlying it all, ashamed of my apparent lack of love for my only child. Prepare yourself by knowing that you, and every birth that occurs is an individual experience, unpredictable, and sometimes not as you want it to be. But at the end of this all, once everything has passed, you are feeling better physically, you will look into your child's tiny face and marvel at this wonder that lays before you.
3. Limit Visitors
Lea: The first 24 hours were a whirlwind. I wish we'd really taken the day to ourselves. Playing hostess and having to hand my son over to other people was very hard on me - emotionally and physically. Next time, we won't have any visitors for a few days - just us to give us time to adjust to being a family.
Christina: I wish I would have had a no visitors' policy in the hospital. Too many people were in and out after the baby was born and I'm the kind of girl that can't rest or sleep during a commotion.
JulieD: If you put a little baby oil or olive oil on their bum right away after they are born, the first poop won't stick to them like super glue and you won't end up scrubbing for a good 15 minutes with a screaming baby! Just remember to apply it after each diaper for a day or two.
Karen: The pads with ice packs are GREAT if you had an episiotomy or a tear. Don't spray the Dermoplast (Xylocaine/Lidocaine) directly onto the episiotomy area. It will sting! Instead, spray it on the pad, and then it will only feel cool when you pull up the pad against the skin.
Amy: Start taking a stool softener immediately, those first few bowel movements are a killer!
AmyN: If they give you that ointment for your perineum, ask for a tube before you go home. It has a numbing effect and would have been wonderful to have at home. It cannot be purchased OTC.
5. Physical Discomforts - Swelling, Stitches, Bleeding, etc.
Shelbiek: I wasn't prepared for the intensity of the after pains or amount of clots I passed. It was scary and the nurses left me alone to deal with it. I felt dumb and scared. I think women should be prepared for that.
Christina: I wish I would have known how swollen down there I would be from all the pushing!
JulieD: I also had no idea that I would get so swollen down there after birth - I felt like 1/2 me and 1/2 someone else. I wish I would have had a bag of frozen peas or something to help keep the swelling down there early - it took a long time to go away.
Deearne: Stitches hurt. No matter what you're told, healing stitches hurt and there's not much you can do about them except keep them clean and dry. And that, 3 to 4 weeks is more like what is normal for the healing time, not 7 days like I was told in the hospital.
Jennifer: When I was pregnant, I developed HELLP Syndrome, a more complicated forum of preeclampsia. Because of this, I was quite swollen and had retained a lot of water. Nobody told me that I would sweat a lot of that water out, and a first couple of nights in the hospital after she was born, I woke up with my gown soaking wet!
Charlotte: In the first day or two after childbirth, I have a hard time breathing when I stand or walk. I feel like all my support is gone and I'm breathless. Fortunately, it doesn't last long.
Karen: There will be lots of blood for the first few weeks after giving birth. One suggestion: Try using a Depends instead of a regular pad to prevent "accidents." They are like underwear.
6. Breastfeeding Challenges
Deearne: It can possibly take a few weeks, or in my case, a few months, for breastfeeding to feel natural and to work for both mother and child. Persevere in the tough times when it hurts because it will get better.
Karen: Breastfeeding is not as easy as everyone makes it out to be. There are trials and hurdles, but it is so worth it. With my first, I didn't know it would take a few days for my milk to come in, and the first 3 days were terrible! I also didn't know how to handle cracked/sore nipples. I did much better the second time around!
[Visit StorkNet's Breastfeeding Cubby]
Melissa: I wish I had known that I could leave my room and go visit my son in the nursery instead of waiting on the nursery staff to bring him to me.
Brandi: I wish they had told me that after I had my baby there would be a few things they would check. I was sleeping and the nurse came in to do her rounds - to check blood pressure, my temperature, and to check for hemorrhoids.
Amy: I was thrilled that I brought my own clothes to be in rather than wearing those ugly gowns. I brought sweat pants and t-shirts and lots of socks!
Amy (HoosierMama): This may sound silly, but I wish they would've told me that I could dress my son while at the hospital. I brought so many outfits and didn't use a single one! I had a c-section so we were in the hospital from Friday to Monday, and the poor baby was not dressed the entire time. He was also jaundiced and was sent home on the bili blanket, so he was not dressed for the first 10 days of his life. It made me sad!
8. Special Moments With Your New Baby
Jenn M: I cuddled him, slept next to him, and just let him know that Mamma on the outside is just as nice as Mamma on the inside.
Deearne: Sit for hours and stare at your precious new baby that you created . . . Imprint your baby's cute little face in your memory.
Karen: I didn't realize how incredibly tired you would be, but have more energy than you thought possible from being so excited!! I also didn't realize how much you could really love a new baby!
MeganMcD: There I was 20 years old, a new Mommy, in a hospital room alone with this little pink boy and thinking, "Oh, my goodness. I am a mom. This wonderful, helpless little being is a product of me." I was so happy and a little frightened knowing that my world was forever changed.
For more reading, check out The Fourth Trimester - And You Thought Labor Was Hard by Amy Einhorn. This book covers the first six week post-partum, but a lot of the issues addressed in this article are covered in her book as well.
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