Now that you're in the last stages of pregnancy, you must be so excited for seeing your baby's face for the first time. How will those first 24 hours be like?
Of course, you may be wondering that - besides having your munchkin in your arms and finally discovering that unexplainable love all parents talk about, there are many new tasks and things that you will have to learn to do. Being a mother is a huge responsibility!
Don't worry, though - many of your new skills will come instinctively, and for many others, we have prepared this article so you can be fully prepared for your newborn first 24 hours. With the exhaustion from childbirth, your overwhelming love for your little one and the many visits from friends and relatives, the first 24 hours will go by in a blur. However, you will still have to do some basic mummy tasks for the first time, so don't miss our survival guide!
The first 24 hours: Your new status as a mum
Yep, you're a mum! During the months you have been building your little one in your womb, you will surely have prepared to the new responsibility that was coming. Suddenly, you aren't the most important thing in your life - your baby is! And as much as you have prepared, the feeling can be very overwhelming. All those feelings are normal, so try to enjoy the whirling of emotions you're experiencing.
You will have plenty of time to worry about what kind of mum you will be and about the uncertainty of how you are doing. But do you want to know a little something? You will do fine! That baby has you as a mother, no one will know him or her better than you, and that means that no one will know better what to do and what not to do. You already educated yourself during pregnancy, so welcome your motherly instincts and start your new life as a mum!
The first 24 hours: Right after birth
After birth, you will be in observation for some time so the doctors make sure you are OK. What happens right after birth can change according to hospital policies and how your baby is. Many hospitals encourage skin to skin contact from the very first moment your little one is in the outside world, whereas others have a different policy. If the mother had to give birth through C-section, the skin to skin contact can be done by the father.
After birth, you will be in observation for some time so the doctors make sure you are OK. In most cases, mother and baby will be able to go to their room and start spending time together. Once you're in your room, the nurse will ask you how you are feeling and the doctors will do your baby's first check-up. They will check his or her vital signs, like the pulse, the temperature and the blood pressure. They will also measure and weigh the baby, since they lose weight right after birth.
And, in the first few hours, you will receive a check-up as well. It's important to check the state of the episiotomy, and if the uterus is little by little returning to its original state. If you don't pee after the first six hours or so, they will probably put a catheter, since a full bladder prevents the contractions of the uterus, which are necessary for it to go back to its original size.
We know you will be exhausted after childbirth, but it's important that you start moving as soon as you're able to, little by little, with help and softly. Moving a little will favour your recovery. If you had an epidural, you will have to wait a few hours, since your sensitivity in your legs will be diminished. Besides, doctors recommend to wait from four to six hours from the moment the catheter was removed.
The situation is different in the case of C-section recovery. You will have to wait from six to eight hours to get up, and you will need somebody's help to do so.
With the baby, what happens right after birth can change according to hospital policies and how your baby is. Many hospitals encourage skin to skin contact from the very first moment your little one is in the outside world, whereas others have a different policy. If the mother had to give birth through C-section, the skin to skin contact can be done by the father.
The first 24 hours: Look at that baby!
You had seen your little one's face only through the ultrasounds, but you are face to face now. He or she may not look as perfect as you were expecting (although he will surely be perfect for his loving mum!): the skin can be reddish and wrinkled, and the head could be pointy due to the strain of going through the birth canal. He could also have the legs somewhat twisted, since he was all compressed inside your womb, and rashes and spots are also common. Don't worry! Little by little, he will grow smoother and will be right how you imagined him!
The first 24 hours: Taking care of your little one
During your baby first 24 hours, you will count with the help of the nurses and midwives of the hospital. And, probably, the friends and family who come visit you and the baby will also provide you with more or less wanted advice. People can be irritating sometimes, can't they? Everybody has an opinion, and many people feel entitled to give it to you, whether you want it or not. Some of the advice you'll get will be very useful and welcomed, but it can be overwhelming, especially when some people advise something and then someone else comes and advises the opposite!
The best thing to do is listen to the advice of the nurses, who have lots of experience in the matter. They will help you start breastfeeding once your milk comes up, and you can also count with the help of a lactation consultant if the baby isn't latching. During the first few hours, you will be able to feed your baby with colostrum, the first, thick milk that is produced. Your baby's suction will help with milk production and also with the contraction of your uterus, which is why it's better to start breastfeeding attempts as soon as you can.
The hospital staff will also teach you other basics in baby care. This depends on hospital policies too, but in some hospitals the new parents will be able to bathe their baby themselves for the first time - although it will be too soon for a real bath. What you will have to do is something called topping and tailing, which consists in wiping his little face and neck and cleaning the nappy area.
The nurses will also teach you how to take care of the umbilical cord, and how to change nappies! A basic but very important thing. Don't worry if you are clumsy at the beginning. You will soon become an expert, as you will have to change nappies several times a day!
Don't forget to ask the nurse some basic questions on how the poo should look like, for instance - and any other thing you have doubts about. It's normal that you have thousands of questions, and the hospital staff is there to help you out. So don't be shy and ask ahead!
The first 24 hours: Taking care of yourself
During your first 24 hours as a mother you will want to take care about your baby, but you can't forget about yourself either. You just put your body through a huge strain, since childbirth is probably the hardest physical effort you'll ever have to endure. You need your rest!
As we said at the beginning of this article, becoming a mum can be overwhelming, and many women have trouble adjusting. That, together with hormonal changes, can result in a feeling of sadness called baby blues, which can end up in a serious disorder called postnatal depression. The first 24 hours as a mother are a haze, and you probably won't have the time or the energy to focus on this, but don't forget to pay attention to your own feelings, and talk to your loved ones and your doctors if the sadness doesn't go away. Postnatal depression is a serious disorder and needs to be acknowledged, first of all, by yourself.
Are you ready now for your first 24 hours with your baby? The greatest adventure of your life is right ahead of you, so buckle up!