After your baby is born
- Straight after birth, the top of your uterus can be felt like a ‘cricket ball’ just below your navel.
- Your midwife will check to see if your uterus is shrinking each day.
- By six weeks it should be back to its pre-pregnant size.
- You may feel mild or severe contractions in the first few days. They may get worse during breastfeeding. Breastfeeding makes the uterus shrink back to its normal size more quickly.
Blood loss after birth
- Blood loss you have vaginally after birth is called ‘lochia’.
- To begin with it will be red, just like a heavy period.
- Within a few days your vaginal loss will be less in amount and much lighter in colour.
- It may increase during breastfeeding.
- Over the next six weeks the loss becomes lighter and stops.
Speak to your doctor or midwife if:
- your blood loss becomes bright red again and gets heavier
- you sense the urge to pass urine
- you have a slow or hesitant flow of urine
- experience pain on passing urine
- feel you are not emptying your bladder properly
- experience frequent leakage of urine
- pass urine more frequently than every 2 hours.
Bowel motions after birth
- It is important to have regular bowel motions after birth.
- Drink plenty of fluids and eat a diet that is high in fibre.
- Your midwife can give you medication to help to soften your bowel motion if needed.
- If you have any problems with your bowel or bladder in hospital, please talk with your midwife or doctor.
Keeping your baby safe in hospital
- All hospital staff are identified by authorised Department of Health (Tasmania) identification tags.
- Do not take your baby outside the Maternity Unit until you are discharged.
- When taking your baby out of your room, put them in the cot and push the cot.
- Do not carry your infant in your arms outside the room or allow others to unless you have been discharged.
- Your baby will wear two identification name bands throughout his/her stay in hospital.
- The Maternity Unit has a rooming-in policy. This means having your baby with you all the time.
- It is your responsibility not to leave your baby unattended.
- If you leave your room/ward during visiting hours, ask a family member to watch your baby.
Prevention of falls
You and your baby can be at risk of falls. After you have had your baby, you may be very tired and drowsy because of lack of sleep, blood loss or pain-relief medication. It is important to reduce this risk of falls by:
- obtaining help when you first get out of bed after having your baby.
- taking your time when getting in or out of bed.
- ensuring the area around your bed is free from obstacles (chairs, presents, blankets, shoes)
- placing frequently used items within easy reach
- asking for assistance if you feel unsteady or when moving your baby into or from the cot
- using the shower chair and rails provided in the bathroom
- placing your baby on their back in the cot if you are feeling sleepy
- wearing non-slip footwear
- Turning the light on when getting out of bed or attending to your baby during the night.
- addressing any safety issues when changing nappies or at bath time
- changing your baby’s nappy in the cot rather than on the bed
- not leaving your baby unattended on any raised surface without supervision
- not carrying your baby in your arms while you are walking around the unit
- using the cot when you are walking around the maternity unit.
Feelings and emotions
- It is normal for all mothers to experience times of emotional and physical exhaustion
- You may experience mood swings about 3-4 days after the birth of your baby.
- ‘Baby blues’ are normal and usually go away within 10 days.
- They are like an emotional release after pregnancy and birth and are often hormonally induced.
- During your hospital stay, we can provide counselling services if you feel overwhelmed.
- If your depression or anxiety lasts more than two weeks, seek help.
- Postnatal depression affects many new mothers in Australia.
- Depression that occurs within 6 months of childbirth may be postnatal depression.
- Your family or partner may notice that you are depressed before you do.
- They should encourage you to seek help if they suspect you are suffering from depression.
Signs and causes of postnatal depression
It is likely caused by a combination of factors including:
- past history of depression and/or anxiety
- a stressful pregnancy
- experiencing severe ‘baby blues’
- sleep deprivation
- prolonged labour and/or delivery complications
- a lack of practical, financial and/or emotional support
- past history of abuse
- unrealistic expectations about motherhood
- moving house.
Seek support for postnatal depression if you:
- feel like life isn’t worth living
- have thoughts about hurting yourself
- worry about hurting your baby.
Where to get help for postnatal depression
- Physiotherapy may help with some common aches and pains of pregnancy.
- These include back or pelvic pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Your pelvic floor muscles help control your bladder and bowel. They are also important for sexual function.
- All women need to strengthen these muscles after being pregnant.
- A pelvic health physiotherapist may be available on the maternity ward.
- Referrals are accepted from your doctor, midwife or allied health professional.
Prevention of postnatal VTE (blood clots)
To reduce the risk of a Venous Thromboembolism (VTE), it is important to:
- resume walking after your baby is born if safe to do so.
- avoid becoming dehydrated, especially during the warmer months.
- wear elastic compression stockings, especially if you have had a caesarean birth.
If you’re assessed as having a high risk of developing a VTE, you will be prescribed medicine to prevent blood clots. These medications are safe to use if you are breastfeeding.
Care of your baby
During your hospital stay, midwives will assist you in many aspects of baby care.
- Your baby is born with a sleep/wake pattern already in place (natural biorhythms).
- It can take up to 6 weeks or longer for this natural sleep pattern to turn around.
- Try to sleep when your baby sleeps.
- Usually, your baby’s first bath is delayed until they are a day old. This is so they don’t get too cold.
- Your baby’s fingernails are sometimes long and can cause scratches to their face.
- Their nails are adhered to the ends of fingers until about three months old.
- Avoid cutting them with scissors or clippers.
- Gently peel the nails back after a bath.
- Baby skin is new and very sensitive. Restrict products used on baby.
- Use natural products where possible.
- Water is fine to clean the nappy area.
- The cord and clamp will be still attached when you go home.
- The cord takes from 5-10 days to fall off.
- It is important to keep the cord area clean and as dry as possible.
- Clean the cord with cotton buds or cotton wool and tap water.
- Keep the nappy away from the cord.
- If the tummy area around the cord looks red or inflamed, see your midwife or doctor immediately.
- A light orange/pinkish stain is sometimes noted in the nappy and mistaken for blood.
- This is caused by a reaction between chemicals in the baby’s urine and chemicals in the nappy fibres
- With baby boys the foreskin is attached to the head of the penis up until about three years of age.
- Don’t attempt to retract the foreskin as it may cause damage.
Normal cleaning as your baby is bathed and normal nappy care is enough to clean the penis.
- Infant male circumcision is not performed at any of our hospitals including for religious and cultural reasons.
- The labia of baby girls are often swollen and red.
- Sometimes there is sticky mucus around the vaginal area or light bleeding.
- This is caused by the mother’s hormones and will disappear soon.
If your baby is unwell
- Sometimes your baby may need to spend time in our Neonatal Paediatric Intensive Care Unit or Special Care Nursery.
- If this period extends beyond your stay, you will be discharged before the baby.
- This can be difficult and hard to deal with
- It is important to discuss your feelings with the staff caring for you and your baby.
- It is good to accept help if offered by friends and family.
- Things they can do include laundry, vacuuming or making meals.
Tasmanian Personal Health Record (Blue Book)
- After the birth of your baby, you will receive a Personal Health Record (blue book).
- You can record all details about your child’s growth, development and health for the next four years.
- Take this book to appointments with doctors, midwives, dentists or Child Health and Parenting Services.