You are in the end zone, T minus a couple of days and you’ll be carrying your bundle of joy home.
It is very normal to feel nervous about the childbirth procedure in the hospital and just as common to feel anxious about the procedures and hospital discharge after giving birth.
We will be answering some commonly asked questions so you can relax a bit.
- How long will I be in the hospital after giving birth?
It depends on whether you give birth vaginally or have a c-section and whether there are complications from the birth. After an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you’re likely to stay in the hospital for 24 to 48 hours. You’ll need to rest and wait for any anesthesia to wear off. And your healthcare provider will want to monitor you and your baby for the first day or so to make sure no problems develop.
- What if I want to leave sooner?
If you think you’d like to be discharged sooner than 24 hours after giving birth, talk to your provider about it before you go into labor. If you opt for an early discharge, you’ll need to take your baby to see a doctor within two or three days after leaving the hospital. You’ll need to see your doctor or midwife, too, but you can wait a week or so as long as you’re feeling fine.
- What if I have a cesarean section?
After a cesarean, your provider will want to be sure you can do the following before you go home: walk to the bathroom, urinate without a catheter, and eat and drink without vomiting.
The medical staff will also make sure your baby is well enough to leave.
- Can my partner stay in the hospital with me?
If you need to stay overnight, your partner may be able to stay with you in the postpartum ward. Some units have private rooms with bed-chairs or cots for partners to sleep in. Check with your provider about your hospital’s accommodations.
- What if my baby needs to go to the intensive care unit, can my stay be longer?
Families whose babies end up in the intensive care unit after birth are rarely able to remain in the hospital longer than the usual postpartum stay. If the mother is well and meets all the expectations of the staff she will be discharged without the baby. An extended stay would not be covered by insurance, and most hospitals won’t allow it.
- What happens right after I give birth to my baby?
In some hospitals, unless you specify otherwise, the baby is cleaned and evaluated immediately after delivery. His nose and throat will be gently suctioned, and he’ll be given an injection of vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot. Antibiotic ointment will be applied to his eyes to prevent infection; your baby can see you through this ointment and it’s not irritating. Your baby will be footprinted, and identification bands will be placed on his wrist and leg. You’ll also be fingerprinted – be sure to ask for a copy of these prints.
- What happens with the placenta? When does it come out and is it painful?
You’ll have to deliver the placenta. The placenta may slide out within minutes after the baby or may take as much as 30 to 60 minutes. The placenta is about one-fifth the size of the baby. It has no bones and is soft, but you may still feel intense cramping. After the placenta is delivered, you will receive medication call Pitocin (oxytocin). Pitocin can be given as a separate injection or mixed with the IV fluids you are already receiving. Pitocin will help your uterus contract so you won’t bleed excessively. To achieve the same effect as Pitocin, your uterus may be externally massaged, or your nipples may be stimulated, or your baby may be put on your breast to suck.
- How will I shower after giving birth? Is it difficult?
If you decide to shower after you deliver, don’t do it alone. Postdelivery fainting is common and it happens most often in the shower because the hot water causes blood pressure to drop, says Faulkner. Use the shower bench and ask your partner, a friend, or a nurse to watch over you.