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The first day: what to expect after giving birth in a hospital

You’ve just given birth to a beautiful baby. And you may be anxious to get your baby home and begin your life together. But the time you stay in the hospital after delivery is an important time for you to heal.

The length of time you will be in the hospital after giving birth will depend on several factors, including your health, your baby’s health, any complications that occurred during the delivery, and your insurance coverage.

Throughout your stay in the hospital, a nurse will regularly check your health to ensure you are healing well and that there are no signs of infection. Your temperature and blood pressure will be monitored. Your belly will be checked often to make sure your uterus is shrinking back to its pre-pregnancy size. And your legs, ankles, and feet will be checked for swelling and circulation.

If you are in any pain, tell your nurse. There are several options for pain relief that are safe for both you and your baby.

After labor and delivery you are at an increased risk for falling because: you may have had medication during labor like an epidural and it may still be in your system, you may be extremely tired from the physical effort of delivery, the feeding demands of your newborn, lack of sleep, and stress. Avoid falls. Be safe and ask for help when getting up to use the restroom or even just walking around your room.

Throughout your hospital stay, your nurse will also help you give your baby all the care he needs to start a healthy life. If you have questions about how to diaper, bathe or dress your baby, ask your nurse. She is there to help and guide you.

Your nurse will also help you to care for your baby’s umbilical cord and, if your baby boy was circumcised, to care for the penis to avoid complications.

A nurse or lactation consultant will also be on hand to make sure you are breastfeeding comfortably. Use this time with your lactation consultant to ask any questions you may have. Take advantage of her expertise. She can help you find a good position to feed your baby, show you how to latch on and break suction correctly to avoid sore nipples, and ensure your baby is getting all the breastmilk he needs.

While you are in the hospital don’t forget to find time to get some much-needed rest. During the quiet skin-to-skin contact moments that are so important for mom and baby bonding, or while you are feeding your baby, take some time to breathe deeply and relax.

But if you feel you are falling asleep, let someone else hold the baby or put him safely in his bassinette. Falling asleep while holding your baby can cause injury to your baby. Instead, keep your baby safe while you get the rest you need.

Before you leave the hospital, make sure you know who to contact in case of an emergency once you are home. And make sure you know who to contact to schedule any follow-up appointments for yourself and to schedule your baby’s first pediatrician appointment.

Many new moms can also benefit from joining a support group. Talk to your healthcare provider before discharge for any recommendations for groups in your area. It can be a relief to know you have that support once you get home.

When you and your baby are ready to be discharged, take a few moments to get your baby ready for the journey home. And make sure you have a car seat available for the drive. Your hospital will require it.

Leaving the hospital with your new baby is an exciting time. The care you and your baby receive in the hospital after delivery is a great beginning to your life together.

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