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Learn what you and your baby can expect after birth.
Prepare for labor and delivery with our online birth class. See all 51 videos in this series.
Linda Murray: Now back to your baby. If he’s healthy and doing well, he’ll be dried with a towel and handed over to you so you can hold him on your belly and chest. Skin contact will help him stay warm and is good for bonding. He may want to breastfeed right away. If so, let him. It’s good for you too and will trigger hormones that will help you recover from birth.
Your caregiver will clamp the umbilical cord in 2 spots and cut between the clamps or your partner can do the honors. If you ended up having a c-section, your baby will most likely be wrapped in a warm blanket and brought to your partner, who’ll be sitting by your head. After you’re stitched up, you’ll have a chance to hold your baby and help him start breastfeeding.
Mom 1: They take the baby immediately and just check everything very quickly. Do all the tests. It takes probably, oh, 2 to 5 minutes where they’re doing all of that and you’re watching and then they put the baby on you and it just amazed me that this little being was there.
Mom 2: “Oh, Dad, you can cut the cord.” He said, “That’s okay.” “No, no, you can cut the cord.” “No really, that’s okay.” And it was kind of … It just wasn’t his thing and he didn’t want to do it.
Linda Murray: After labor and delivery you’ll probably feel a rush of emotions or even be in a bit of shock and not feel much at first. You may be shaky or have chills for as long as an hour, which is your body’s way of telling you to warm up. When your body temperature rises, it will help keep your body warm. Ask for a blanket if you need one, and try cuddling with you baby and partner. Your uterus will contract now and become very firm, helping to cut off and collapse open blood vessels where the placenta was attached.
Your doctor or midwife will check to make sure your uterus remains firm and may massage your belly or give you medication if it isn’t. If you had a tear in your vaginal opening or a deliberate cut to widen it, called an episiotomy, you’ll get stitches now. If you had an epidural, the anesthetist will remove the small tube from your back. You may feel light contractions called afterbirth pains for a few hours or days, particularly when you’re nursing your baby. These cramps are usually stronger and continue a few days longer if this isn’t your first baby. Ask for pain medication if you feel you need it. If your labor doesn’t go exactly the way we described here, you’re not alone. The details of how birth unfolds can vary a lot from woman to woman.
Mom 3: As soon as she was out, all the pain was gone. I mean, in that instant. You know, you go from, you know, pushing this head out where it’s this huge burning ring of fire to as soon as she’s out it’s gone.
Mom 4: I began to like shake very violently. I think just—I think my body, I didn’t realize that my body was going through a lot up to that point and was probably—I have probably pushed it to the limit.
Mom 5: It’s 7:04 in the morning on a rainy day, the little one came out, not so little one came out. And the nurses are yelling, “You gave birth to a toddler.” And I was so happy because I was like this is so cool. I can’t carry him because I’m too weak to, but, you know, I was like I made the record baby for today.
Mom 6: When my baby was finally born and the doctor held him up and in my arms, it was like everything you imagined it would be times a million and the emotion is just overwhelming and even talking about it now I’m getting emotional.