Week 1 after the birth: What to expect

Week 1 after the birth: What to expect

Find out what you can expect in the first week after your
baby is born – including how you may feel, your choices for the afterbirth (placenta), visits from family and friends, going home, and
recovering from the birth.

How you may feel

Giving birth can be a tiring and emotional event. You may
feel tired for the first few days and getting plenty of rest will
help. You may be feeling overjoyed to finally hold your baby in your arms,
or you may be feeling scared – or both!

Your midwife (or the midwife working on behalf of your
specialist doctor) is there to support you, so ask for help when you need it.

The baby blues

Most women get the ‘baby blues’ around 3–5 days after giving
birth (make sure that you and your partner know the signs of postnatal
depression). Keep your baby close to you as much as you can. Your partner
should also spend time holding and being close to your baby.

The whenua/afterbirth (placenta)

The whenua is what fed and supported your baby while they
were growing inside you, and in the last part of the birth it comes away from
the wall of your uterus (womb) and passes out through your vagina.

After the birth you will be asked what you want to do with
the whenua. The whenua is very special to some women and they choose to take it
home. You could talk with your whānau before the birth and make a decision
about the whenua with them. You can also include your decision about the whenua
in your birth

Visits from whānau (family) and friends

After the baby is born your whānau and friends will want to
visit. It’s up to you to decide when you are ready for visitors.

If you don’t want any visitors for the first few days after the baby is born, let your whānau and friends know. You could also ask them to
phone or text first to check that it’s OK to visit.

Going home

If you have your baby in hospital you may be able to return
home with your baby soon after the birth, or you may stay in hospital for a
couple of days. The length of your stay depends on what you want and how you
and your baby are doing after the birth. 

Before leaving the hospital or the birthing unit both you and
your baby will be checked to make sure that you are healthy and well. Your
midwife (or the midwife working on behalf of your specialist doctor) will also
talk with you about visiting you at home.

Remember that you need to have a car seat or capsule for
your baby – the hospital or birthing unit will not allow you to leave unless
they have seen it.

Recovering from the birth

Vaginal birth

You are likely to be tired and sore for a couple of weeks,
especially if you have stitches or tearing. Getting enough rest is important –
but it can be difficult until your newborn baby has more regular sleep and
feeding patterns.

Your back will be weaker than before you were pregnant, so
avoid heavy lifting. Remember to ask for help when you need it.

Your midwife will check your recovery in the coming weeks.

Cesarean section

It takes longer to recover from a cesarean section than it
does from a vaginal birth. Your midwife or specialist doctor will let you know
when you can go home from hospital. They’ll check your recovery in the coming
weeks and will let you know when it’s safe for you to drive and to start
lifting and carrying things again. This can take up to 6 weeks.

Looking after yourself

It’s important to look after yourself after baby is born.
You need to get as much rest and sleep as you can, eat and drink well, and ask
for help when you need it.


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