If you’re a first time mum you may be wondering what happens after the delivery, before you leave the labour ward. Well, here are several things that happen and they aren’t usually talked about…..
Firstly, the placenta (after birth) is delivered. An injection is given into your leg to help the placenta separate and reduce blood loss. The midwife or doctor will gently pull the umbilical cord that is attached to the placenta to deliver it. The placenta is soft so it doesn’t hurt, even if you don’t have an epidural. You may feel a bit of pressure at this stage.
Next, your baby will be checked, weighed and dressed. You may want to do skin to skin at this stage.
Then its on to stitches, and people definitely don’t tell you about this stage. A tear or episiotomy (cut) is repaired by the doctor or midwife looking after you. For those with an epidural you won’t feel pain but you might feel pressure or the stitch as it pulls through. If you haven’t had an epidural you will be given an injection of local anaesthetic. Yes, there will be a needle. The anaesthetic is injected into the vagina, perineal muscle and skin. It stings and is painful for about a minute so you will probably be given the entonox gas to use. You can use the entonox throughout the suturing. Stitches are used to stop any bleeding and restore things to the way they were before the baby arrived. Its one continuous stitch so the degree of tear rather than the number of stitches dictates the severity of the tear. A suppository for pain may be given after the stitches. This lasts for 16 hours so definitely say yes if it is suggested.
It will take 10 days for the stitches to dissolve and 6 weeks to be fully healed. The stitches may feel tighter on day 2 or 3 after delivery and this is part of the healing process. It will sting when you pass urine for the first day or two. Drink plenty of water to dilute the urine to reduce stinging. Showers are better than baths and change pads regularly to reduce the risk of infection. Do not use soaps, disinfectants or tee-tree near the stitches as these can cause the stitches to dissolve too quickly. If you notice a gap in the stitches, excessive pain or pus/discharge from the stitches after you go home see your doctor.
If you decide to try breastfeeding your baby this will usually be done in the delivery room once the doctor or midwife is finished stitching you.
Finally, the midwife/nurse will help you freshened up or if you have not had an epidural you will be allowed go for a shower. Once you are cleaned up, you can put on fresh pajamas and you will be provided with tea and toast to get your energy levels up before going to the ward.