Postpartum: What to Expect

After Delivery

After your baby is born, a nurse will use a bulb syringe to clear mucus and amniotic fluid from your baby’s mouth and nose. The umbilical cord will be clamped and cut. A nurse will record your baby’s Apgar score. This simple test measures your baby’s condition at one minute, five minutes and 10 minutes of life to monitor your baby’s breathing, reflexes, skin color, temperature and heart rate. A score of 10 means your baby is very healthy; a score of one indicates a critical situation.

Nurses may also apply an antibiotic ointment to your baby’s eyes to protect them from germs that can cause infection and vision problems. During your recovery, your nurse will continue to check on you regularly for the next two to three hours. You can expect to have heavy discharge and continued mild contractions. Your baby can room with you, unless he or she needs to be cared for in the transition or critical care nursery.

Bonding with Your Baby

The first interaction between parents and their baby is a wonderful event. A strong emotional bond is formed as your newborn begins to recognize the voices and faces of its mother and father. Studies have shown that babies arrive with the ability to express a full-range of emotions - they can smile and grimace and yawn or stare intently. Here are some bonding ideas you may want to try:

  • Hold your baby, especially skin-to-skin. This will warm and comfort him/her.
  • Interact closely and keep your faces close to your baby’s. Newborns can see a distance of eight to 10 inches.
  • Sing a lullaby. If you sang to your baby while in the womb, he/she will recognize your voice and be comforted. He/she may even turn his/her head toward the familiar sound.
  • Stay together as a family in your room. Phone calls can be made from here and family and friends can be welcomed.
  • When playing with your baby, make sure you are touching him/her. Touch, closeness and warmth are essential to a newborn’s sense of security. Newborns use touch to explore and understand their new world.

More on Postpartum Care

If you’ve decided to breastfeed your baby, he or she will need to eat fairly soon after being born. It may take a few tries because it can take a few days for your milk to build up. During the first days of feeding, consult with our nurses and our certified lactation specialist. Learn more about breastfeeding your baby >

Some women develop postpartum depression (PPD) shortly after giving birth or during the first year. Learn more about how to identify and manage PPD >