What happens after birth?

Author Name
Answered by: Olivia, An Expert in the Pregnancy: Postpartum Period Category
When you’re full of the joys of pregnancy, it’s hard to flash forward to life immediately after birth. How will your body feel? What happens after birth? Where will your head be? Will breastfeeding come naturally? And what checks will you and your newborn need before you're allowed to leave hospital? Evidence shows that supporting women and babies at this vital time can have a huge impact on future health and learning. Being a new mom should be a positive experience and support for moms in those early days is essential.



After a lengthy labor, it can take your baby a few hours—or days—to grow into her looks. Her skin may appear blue or grey, as she’s yet to get her circulation going. Squeezing through the birth canal may leave her looking misshapen, too. The plates of your baby’s skull move to fit down the birth canal, so delivery can mold her head into a cone shape. Assisted deliveries using forceps can elongate her head further although it should return to normal within a few days.

Your baby will also be slippery and covered in a greasy, white substance known as vernix, which protected her skin in the uterus. While you’re enjoying those first few cuddles, your health care provider will check your baby’s condition. This will include assessing her physical condition based on her color, muscle tone, heart rate, breathing, and response to stimulation.



Ten minutes or so after labor you will need to deliver the placenta. It is bloody, veiny and about the size of a dinner plate. Breastfeeding can help with a placenta delivery as it causes the uterus to contract and push the placenta out.

Early skin-to-skin contact can boost mother-baby bonding and help establish breastfeeding. If possible, as soon as your baby is born, put her onto your bare tummy or chest and keep her there for at least half an hour. Your baby will be in a state called “quiet alertness”- her eyes will be wide open and she will be rooting for the breast. Some babies instinctively find the breast while others take their time, so don’t rush it. Once she is latched on, the first feed can sting a little; your health care provider will check that your baby is positioned correctly so she can get colostrum, that first thick yellowy liquid packed with antibodies, fat and protein.

While some mothers go home from hospital within six hours, the average hospital stay—after a normal delivery—is one day. Before you leave, health care staff will check you are coping with breastfeeding and ask whether you have any other issues. You may also ask for a tutorial on bathing your baby and looking after her umbilical cord stump. Mums who wish to formula feed can ask to see how bottles are prepared and made up.

Regular diaper changes will soon make you an expert, though the first one may be frightening. Meconium is a tar-like substance and is made up of all the stuff your baby ingested in the womb and takes around two days to pass. Before you leave the hospital, make sure you have a rear-facing car seat for baby, a legal requirement in every state. Your baby is your responsibility now which includes making sure she is safe and secure for her maiden voyage home.

It is not unusual for a first-time mom to be curious about what happens after birth. Your health care provider can assist you with questions and advice to make your pregnancy and labor an enjoyable experience.

Author Name Like My Writing? Hire Me to Write For You!

Related Questions