29 Things About the Moments After Delivery That All New Moms Should Know

by | May 1, 2019

If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably heard a lot about childbirth and the specifics on labor and delivery. Contractions and pushing is commonly talked about amongst women.

However, not too often do people talk about the recovery of childbirth and the few minutes and hours after a baby is delivered. I wish I knew more about what to expect during the moments after delivery so I wanted to share my experiences.

The active labor process is tough, but once the baby comes out, it’s not smooth sailing either. You’re still in pain, exhausted, and overwhelmed PLUS you have a newborn baby to take care of and figure out.

Although, if you’re in a hospital, you should have great doctors and nurses looking out for your care, as well as the health and safety of your baby.

This is the follow up to my previous post about 33 Things You Need To Know About Childbirth. That’s where I gave my experience for active labor and the actual birth.

Now I’m offering some insight and tips on what goes on after delivery so you can be informed when these things happen to you. Remember, every woman has a unique childbirth experience so you may encounter a different delivery entirely.

Childbirth doesn't just end after delivery of your baby. This is what I wish I knew as a new mom about issues that can arise in the hospital and the whole recovery process for mom and baby. Recovery can be an unpleasant experience for most new moms. Here are several of the postpartum symptoms following labor and delivery that you may not have known about and tips with how to deal with them.

1. You’ll still be nervous once the baby is delivered

The immediate relief once the baby comes out is breathtaking, but your job has just begun. Right after the baby is born, you’ll want to hear that first cry to know that they took their first breath of oxygen.

Although you have just gone through the most intense experience of your life, your only concern will be that your baby is ok.

After my second delivery, the nurses quickly took the baby for routine measurements and observations in the corner of my delivery room for what seemed like 20 minutes!

It was probably only like 5 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity and all I could think and ask was, Is he ok? Deep in my mind I thought something was wrong since they took him from me for so long.

This is normal procedure, but it just made me feel like they were hiding something from me. I asked what his APGAR score was and whether he looked ok.

My nerves were soon calmed when they finally put him in my arms and I could see his beautiful face and hear him breathing.

Related Post: DIY Hospital Birth Announcement

Childbirth doesn't just end after delivery of your baby. This is what I wish I knew as a new mom about issues that can arise and the whole recovery process. Recovery can be an unpleasant experience for most new moms. Here are several of the postpartum symptoms following labor and delivery that you may not have known about and tips with how to deal with them.

2. Delivery isn’t over after the baby comes out

If you think the craziness is over the second your baby comes out, think again! You still have to deliver the placenta.

The placenta is the organ that nourishes the fetus during pregnancy and since it’s job is done now that the baby is out, it also needs to come out.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t just come out on it’s own with the baby. There is still some pushing involved to get it all the way out. However, this pain is nowhere near like pushing the baby out, but it does still take some effort and it’s uncomfortable.

Along with the placenta will also come more bodily fluids and blood. So much fluid. Then there’s time for stitches.

Hopefully you will be lucky enough to not need them, but if you do, the doctor will do that right after delivery as well. You may or may not feel it if the epidural is still turned on, but it’s nowhere near the pain of childbirth so you will still be relieved!

3. Bonding can take time

When I was pregnant, I would have daydreams about that moment when the nurses would place the baby in my arms and how special it would be.

It would always make me tear up thinking about that perfect moment when the world would just stop and how happy I would be. However, it doesn’t always feel that way and that’s ok.

There weren’t magical fireworks and tears of joy. This wasn’t because I didn’t love my baby and I wasn’t over the moon, but I was just in a state of shock and exhaustion.

That could have also been because the end of my delivery was so traumatic with the baby’s heart rate dropping, doctor using suction to get her out, and shoulders getting stuck which all made for a stressful final 2 hours.

The first thing I said when they put the first baby in my arms was not Oh my, I am so in love. It was I am never doing that again.

That feeling subsided soon after and I could finally appreciate the little angel I was looking at. I was just expecting that instantaneous, joyful emotion, but it didn’t happen.

After just 10 minutes or so I was finally able to relax, take a deep breath, and love on my baby. However, for some moms bonding can take a little longer.

That’s fine, just know that it will happen. Once the trauma wears off, you’ll feel that love that you know you have.

Related Post: How to Prepare Yourself for Breastfeeding Your Newborn

4. Childbirth is serious

Yes, millions of babies are born everyday and mothers of all different ages, races, and sizes are giving birth without issue. However, it’s not an experience to take lightly.

With medical advancement in the last decades, the maternal mortality rate (women dying during birth) has decreased greatly, but there are still instances where new mother’s don’t end up living to see their newborn baby.

This isn’t to scare you, but to make sure you’re aware of the possible complications so you can be well informed. I know many circumstances where women had to advocate for themselves because something just didn’t feel right and they had life-risking symptoms that their doctors never picked up on.

Even though childbirth is a completely natural part of life, it’s altering the state of your body and can still result in serious issues. Although many riskier labors result in c-sections (which is a major surgery), complications can arise from vaginal births as well.

Even days after you give birth, it’s best to be aware of your body and let the doctors know if something is off.

5. Childbirth can be traumatic

Not only am I talking about the risk of physical complications from childbirth, but mentally too. What your body and mind have gone through from conception to after delivery is nothing short of incredible, but it is an exhausting, scary experience.

Many women end up traumatized from the experience and it can result in postpartum anxiety or depression, which is common.

My first childbirth felt very traumatic because of the issues I had with low fetal heart rate and difficulty pushing my baby out, however it wasn’t even half the amount of craziness that some mothers go through.

You will probably experience so many emotions during delivery and those feelings don’t just go away as soon as you push the baby out. The memories may linger for days, weeks, or even months after birth.

However, after all is said and done, I can still look back and say it was the most beautiful experience because it brought me my two perfect children and I’m ready to do it all over again (as soon as my husband lets me)!

6. Your hospital bed will be a mess

You might not want to take a look at the sheets underneath you immediately after delivery. I felt like I was soaking in a tub afterwards!

Most of the blood and fluids that filled up your uterus, placenta, and any extra fluid that was helping your baby to thrive in the womb, has come out and you’re basically swimming in it.

The nurses will clean it up quickly without you really noticing. However, there are a few minutes where you’re just surrounded by unpleasant bodily fluids and feeling extra dirty.

7. You will need help walking

After laying in a bed for close to 20 hours, all I wanted to do after giving birth was get up and stretch. If you’ve had an epidural, you’ll notice that your legs felt like jell-o during labor.

You may have to wait up to 45 minutes to an hour after the epidural wears off in order to get out of bed and walk again.

Once you can get up, the nurses will have to assist you with walking to the bathroom for safety. You still won’t be too sturdy on your feet so you’ll definitely want the help.

Your partner can also help you out, but the nurses may need to be the ones to walk with you for liability reasons.

8. The nurses will have to clean you up

Like I said before, it will be a mess down there. There will be a lot of blood still flowing out and the nurses will be helpful with cleaning and dressing you up.

After your first time getting out of bed, they will walk you to the bathroom to start cleaning you up. You probably won’t be able to take a shower yet, but you will be able to clean up a majority of the mess.

The nurses will give you a spray bottle with warm water to clean any excess blood and residue off, give you some ice packs and pain-relieving spray to place in the large mesh underpants that you’ll wear for the next few days.

They’ll educate you on how to best take care of healing those areas and ways to make yourself more comfortable and heal your pain.

Tip: Take home as much of the products that the hospital provides when you leave. Pads, ice packs, and cleaners, and creams can all be taken with you, so less things that you will have to buy!

9. The first shower will feel so amazing

I couldn’t wait to take a shower after how dirty I felt after delivery. This won’t be for a few hours after birth, if you’re lucky.

You first have to wait for things to settle down, enjoy your bonding time with baby, and probably transfer rooms before you can even think about showering. Once you do, you will feel so refreshed.

10. You will still look 6 months pregnant

After watching your belly grow for the last 9 months and most recently, seeing it larger than you ever imagined it could get, it will be really odd to look at it now.

That big baby belly has just deflated, but it doesn’t go back to a flat tummy instantly.

Now you will just be left with a flabby area where a baby once was. It’s not all just skin though. Your uterus (that expanded as the baby grew) is still larger than it’s original size.

With the uterus, some extra tissue, and fluids, your belly will still look a little full, just not as hard.

It may be hard for some women to see their body like this, but just know that it will soon go back to normal. Immediately after delivery, your uterus already goes into contraction mode to get back to its original size.

By day 3, you’ll already notice your tummy a lot smaller than it was the minutes after birth.

Also, if you’re breastfeeding, your uterus will start shrinking even faster. Everytime your nipple is stimulated, it will send messages to your uterus to contract, helping to get it back to its original size shortly,

Related Post: How I Lost All the Post-Baby Weight While Breastfeeding

11. Your baby will be safe in the nursery

Most hospitals have a nursery where the nurses can care for the newborns when they need it. They will also be able to take them overnight so you can get more sleep.

The nurse staff will swaddle them, rock them, or just let them sleep in their bassinet. Your baby will get such close attention and care when they need it.

The nurses will wake you up and return the newborn to you every 2.5-3.5 hours overnight to eat, or depending on when they start to show hunger cues.

Tip: If your hospital offers to take your newborn to the nursery overnight, let them! Once you go home, you won’t have any help and will be running on very little sleep.

I got more sleep in the hospital than I did the first 3 weeks of being home! Take advantage of the nurses who are experts at taking care of babies and it will be so helpful to you as a new mom.

12. You will bleed heavily

All the excess blood and fluids that your body needed to keep the baby thriving will be pouring out and it will continue to over the next few weeks.

I only experienced heavy bleeding during the first 2 days in the hospital, but once I came home it was very light. However, many women experience the heavy bleeding with clots for weeks.

Note that you will also experience a lot of bleeding from your vaginal area even if you had a c-section. Your body still needs to get rid of the excess blood that isn’t needed anymore and not all of it comes out during surgery.

Once you go home it should have eased up a bit and you may only need to wear a light pad or even panty liner. Just make sure you still wear one at all times (even if you think you’re done bleeding), because it may surprise you.

Tip: Since you can’t use tampons for at least 6 weeks after birth, stock up on both heavy and light/medium maxi pads. Also, grab as many extra from the hospital as you can before you leave.

Related Post: Essentials for Your Postpartum Recovery Kit

13. Uterine Contractions

Sorry ladies, you’re not done with contractions after your baby is born. Since the uterus has expanded so large during pregnancy, after you deliver the baby, it contracts itself to shrink back down to the tiny size it was before you got pregnant.  

This is a great thing for us women because it’s what makes our tummy flatten back up again (which we all can’t wait for), but man does it hurt!

For me, these contractions were just as bad as my labor contractions (pre-epidural). No joke!

What I also found out this time around was that they get worse with each pregnancy.  So since this was my 2nd, I definitely felt it a lot more intense, but the 1st delivery, I had them pretty bad too.

They mostly occur while your baby is nursing, as this helps to produce the oxytocin in your body which naturally causes the uterus to contract.

These intense pains can last for a few days to a couple weeks and Ibuprofen is the best treatment for it. I thought deliveries should get easier with each pregnancy, not harder!

Tip: Make sure your doctor prescribes you prescription strength Ibuprofen for maximum relief at the hospital and for going home which will help with pain from the contractions, as well as all the other soreness you will experience.

14. Pitocin is given after birth

The IV that is used during delivery typically stays in for the next day or two to keep the fluids and any extra medications running through your body.

They will be giving you Pitocin that helps to shrink the uterus back to it’s original size. As stated above, these contractions caused me a lot of pain and the Pitocin increases it.

15. Pain

The pain and soreness varies individually and entirely depends on your delivery, pain tolerance, and how your body responds to childbirth. If you tore a lot and required stitches, you’ll probably be in more pain than someone who did not tear.

However, expect that your vaginal area will feel like a truck hit it and that’s totally normal based on the size of the baby you just pushed out.

16. Body Aches

The majority of my pain after birth that I experienced was actually body aches from my arms, shoulders, and down through my back. At first, I had no idea why I felt so sore and attributed it to the awful hospital beds they make you sleep on.

Low and behold, I realized, my body hurt so bad because I was using literally every muscle in my body to push out this baby for an hour and a half.

Some of these muscles I haven’t ever even used so it’s no wonder why they were sore- I felt like I just swam a marathon! It’s no joke that labor is hard work! Next time, I’m going to work out a bit more during pregnancy and get myself in shape for childbirth.

Tip: Make sure your doctor prescribes you prescription strength Ibuprofen for maximum relief at the hospital and for going home which will help with pain from the contractions, as well as all the other soreness you will experience.

17. Breastfeeding can be hard

If you’re planning on breastfeeding, you will want to start it immediately after delivery. Getting your baby to latch is a learning process for both you and your baby.

It can take time and effort and it’s normal to feel frustrated and defeated. Some babies and moms struggle more than others, however be confident that you can do it if you put your mind to it.

Be prepared in advance to start nursing and take all the advice that you can from the nurses and lactation consultants.

Tip: Read both of my posts on Preparing for Breastfeeding Your Newborn and First Steps to Breastfeeding Success: Helpful Tips From Day One. These will help give you the knowledge you need to get started and make it easier for you from the beginning.

18. Chapped and Sore Nipples

Childbirth doesn't just end after delivery of your baby. This is what I wish I knew as a new mom about issues that can arise and the whole recovery process. Recovery can be an unpleasant experience for most new moms. Here are several of the postpartum symptoms following labor and delivery that you may not have known about and tips with how to deal with them.

Your nipples are not used to such hard and frequent sucking and within 24 hours of beginning to nurse your little one, your nipples will really feel the difference.  

They start to get cracked and red and can hurt even more every time your baby suckles on them.  This almost led me to quit breastfeeding, but I’m so glad that I persevered through the pain because it did get better within a couple weeks.

Tip: Use the Ameda Gel Pads. They are a life saver!  Buy them before you go into labor so you can bring them with you in your hospital bag.  They also work even better if you refrigerate or freeze them.  

You can also use Lanolin Cream for healing, Medela Soft Shells (these go in your bra and keep it from rubbing against your nipple), and just air them out by not wearing a top while you’re home.  I used all of these tricks and they all helped significantly.

Related Post: How to Ease Breast & Nipple Pain During the First Week of Pregnancy 

19. Swollen Genital Region

It does not look pretty down there. Don’t try to look at it!  Your vaginal area can be all puffed up because of the trauma it just went through.  

This inflammation should go down within a day or 2 though and NSAIDs (Motrin, Advil, Ibuprofen) help to reduce the swelling.

20. Swollen Hands and Feet

If you experienced swelling during the last couple months of pregnancy (or even if you haven’t), you’ll probably see the swelling of your hands and feet during childbirth recovery too.  

Mine lasted about 3 days and was even worse than when I was pregnant.  I was on an IV for about 24 hours after delivery with a lot of fluids because my blood pressure was low and I had an epidural so that was the primary reason for my swelling.  

Tip: Try to stay off your feet and keep them elevated, as well as moving your hands and fingers around (you can use retrograde massage to push the fluid back up to the heart) to reduce the swelling.

21. Hemorrhoids

These are no fun, but just another thing caused by the baby and all your organs being pushed around down there.  Not to mention, when you’re pushing out the baby, they tell you to push like you’re having a bowel movement so no wonder why your insides feel like they’re coming out!

Not everyone gets this, but if you have a genetic predisposition to it, you may. 

Tip: Preparation H ointment really helps with the pain in that area as well as stool softeners so it doesn’t hurt as bad when you use the bathroom.

Related Post: How to Prepare Your Postpartum Recovery Kit

22. Exhaustion

Unless you’re one of the lucky ones, you could have been in labor for 10-20 hours.  Childbirth is hard work and takes so much out of you, leading to plain exhaustion afterward.  

Initially you’ll be running on adrenaline and just so excited to have your baby in your arms, but very shortly the exhaustion will hit you in the face like a brick wall.  

Between having to feed your baby and wake up every 2-3 hours, visitors at the hospital, and just recovering from your body being basically torn apart, it seems like you will never catch up on sleep.  

Tip: Nap during the day when your baby is napping, let your partner or anyone who volunteers to help out to watch the baby do it, and send your baby to the nursery while in the hospital.  

You’ll need all the sleep you can get because once you’re home, the work doesn’t stop!

23. Thirst

Especially if you’re nursing, you will become extremely thirsty.  I must have drank 2 gallons of water per day in the hospital!

Tip: Always have a large glass or bottle of water near you once you start nursing because you’ll definitely be reaching for it. When there’s a sleeping or nursing baby on you, it’s difficult to get up and get one! The hospital should provide you with a large jug for water or just ask for one.

24. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Take this time in the hospital to ask the nurses and doctors all you can. Get your questions out while you’re there because your follow up appt isn’t for 6 weeks!

If you’re feeling sad, in terrible pain, or just something doesn’t feel right with yourself or your baby, talk to someone. Also, any questions you have on taking care of your baby (sleeping, bathing, feeding, diapering, etc) or yourself (bleeding, sex, pain, exercise, etc), don’t hesitate to ask!

Make sure everything is right before leaving the hospital because you’ll never have this many healthcare professionals at your disposal again. Just because you made it through birth doesn’t mean everything will be ok.

Tip: Write down your questions as they come to you so you don’t forget. You will probably think of a lot of things while your nurses or doctors aren’t in the room, so make sure you can jot them down to remember for when they are around.

25. You’ll be so nervous leaving the hospital

After the nurses check out your car seat, they’ll send you on your merry way home. It seems so surreal bringing home this itty bitty baby that you feel so unconfident about knowing how to take care of.

Your partner will probably be driving 10 mph on your way home as you sit in the backseat beside your new precious angel.

Once you arrive home, it’s even more strange that the house that was once just for you and your partner, is now taken over by baby stuff and your little one is right there with you.

It feels like someone should be there telling you step-by-step how to be new parents. Like how do I know when they’re hungry? How do I know when they’re tired? How do I give them a bath?

It will all come natural, but that initial shock sets in now that you’re on your own.

26. You will be so in love

The love you will feel for your newborn baby is like no other. Even though the initial bond can take some time, you have a special connection with your baby that you can only understand once you experience it.

Read more about 33 Things You Should Know About Childbirth

Childbirth doesn't just end after delivery of your baby. This is what I wish I knew as a new mom about issues that can arise in the hospital and the whole recovery process for mom and baby. Recovery can be an unpleasant experience for most new moms. Here are several of the postpartum symptoms following labor and delivery that you may not have known about and tips with how to deal with them.
Childbirth doesn't just end after delivery of your baby. This is what I wish I knew as a new mom about issues that can arise in the hospital and the whole recovery process for mom and baby. Recovery can be an unpleasant experience for most new moms. Here are several of the postpartum symptoms following labor and delivery that you may not have known about and tips with how to deal with them.
Childbirth doesn't just end after delivery of your baby. This is what I wish I knew as a new mom about issues that can arise in the hospital and the whole recovery process for mom and baby. Recovery can be an unpleasant experience for most new moms. Here are several of the postpartum symptoms following labor and delivery that you may not have known about and tips with how to deal with them.

Hi I’m Marissa!

A mom of two little ones, here to provide some relatable experiences, tips, and tricks to the joys and challenges of pregnancy and childbirth through raising babies and toddlers.  Read more about me here.