You’ve just given birth on the Labor and Delivery Floor. What’s next?
You can expect to stay in your delivery room for about an hour after delivering before being moved into your recovery room. This is to give the doctors and nurses plenty of time to get Baby’s stats completed, double and triple check how the newborn is doing, make sure the umbilical cord is properly cut down, make sure all of the tags/identification bracelets are in place, get baby in a diaper and wrapped up and handed to Mom or Dad. Meanwhile, you birth the placenta (the fourth stage of labor), you are getting stitched up (if stitches are needed), if you had an epidural it is wearing off and your catheter is being removed, you’re receiving some counsel from your doctor while trying to focus on everything else going on around the room, and you finally get to hold your freshly wrapped-up baby.
Depending on your timeframe, and if you’re going to be breastfeeding, you’ll most likely want to give nursing a try while still in the delivery room. This is beneficial to your baby - who could use some comfort after such a traumatic experience, and it is beneficial for you - to signal to your body that you’re ready to start producing milk and to start aiding in the (very painful) uterine contractions as it starts shrinking back down. While doing this, you’ll likely have a nurse by your side giving you tips and making sure you don’t have any questions.
When it’s time to move, you may or may not need help getting from your bed to the wheelchair depending on your epidural status. A small gang of you will make your way to the elevators (or down the hall) to Mother and Baby. It’s possible that Baby is being pushed in his/her hospital bassinet by a nurse while Dad is pushing your wheelchair (and hauling all of your belongings). But this transition sometimes happens while your newborn is in the nursery getting more tests done. It works out well this way because then you have a minute to focus on yourself and your needs in getting settled into your new room.
At some point when you’re settled down, a nurse will assist in (or fully perform) Baby’s first wash! Yes, they wipe newborns down right after birth but they do not wash them. This makes a huge difference, and you’ll love your baby even more once this bath is over with and he/she is squeaky clean and smelling delicious. Plus, if there’s any hair - it comes to life a bit after being washed because it’s not just plastered to Baby’s head!
The first trip to the bathroom is something every mom dreads a little bit. Luckily, there are usually TWO nurses to assist here (then one as needed until you feel confident in there by yourself!). It’s not nice to sugarcoat… this experience is usually weird and painful and a tad alarming. The nurses will divide and conquer, one helping and assisting you (including washing you off with warm water when you’re done) and one creating your next masterpiece of a pad. This consists of a new pair of mesh undies, a VERY large pad, a few Tucks witch hazel pads (your new bff), and some topical numbing cream as the icing on the cake.
Even worse than bathroom trips? The uterine “massages” the kind nurses perform every few hours. Get used to that feeling because breastfeeding will feel nearly as painful for at least a week. But don’t worry, it does go away eventually!
For the most part, Baby can stay with you in your room as much as you’d like. Periodically, a trip to the nursery for testing, infant immunization, or other needs are necessary. But those tend to be quick! Some moms suggest having newborns spend the night in the nursery to get yourself a good night of sleep before needing to go home, other moms prefer their babies to stay with them the first night. This totally depends on your preferences! And you can change your mind at any point by letting your nurse know!
At any stage of your hospital stay post baby, you can change out of your hospital gown or change your baby out of his/her initial hospital “outfit”. Something cozy and lightweight is suggested! And the easier the access to your baby’s diaper and umbilical cord, the better for everyone!