The First Hours After Delivery: What to Expect

The First 8 Days of Being a Mom is a day-by-day, hands on guide that leads new mothers through what happens on delivery day (Day 1) and the next few eventful, exhausting, and exciting days. The manual explains how to take care of the new mom and newborn, including the signals of labor, the four stages of labor, strategies for getting through labor, epidural, cesarean, observations after delivery, appearance of the baby, checking the mother after delivery. In this excerpt from the book which is part of the Day 1 chapter, translator and editor Gea Meijering explains what happens on delivery day and provides support for the new parents as they anticipate the processes that lie ahead.

The First 8 Days of Being a Mom: Day 1

The New Mother

There’s your baby. After nine long months the baby is finally in your arms and you can gaze upon her little face. The long waiting, the delivery, it’s all over now that your baby is there. Hopefully everything is going well. Does your baby feel like she is yours right away or do you have to get used to being a mother?

At first most parents are happy and relieved that everything was successful and that their child is healthy. It’s time to enjoy the new baby.  But with that also starts a time of changing moods. After the initial swell of relief, other feelings can start rearing their heads.

To start, physically your body is not quite as it was nine months ago. While your body is healing from the delivery, your breasts are starting to produce milk, even if you are not planning on breastfeeding. Your breasts will feel big and solid. Your lower region may have sutures that are not yet healed.  As tired as you may be, your excitement may keep you from sleeping. And if you do nod off, you will wake up often because a hungry baby is crying for you.

Just like you have to get used to your pregnancy, you have to get used to this new situation. You have become a mother. The responsibility you feel for this little child that depends on you can weigh awfully heavy on you. Despite the fact that most of the time you probably feel happy, you may be welling up with tears regularly. The people that care for you in this special period of time know that these mixed feelings are there.  Every new mother has them.  Don’t be too hard on yourself.  It is important that you take time with your loved ones during these special moments.

Of course every woman is different, but physically you can expect the following things to happen in the next few days:

  • You may perspire a lot more, especially at night
  • Bowel movements will start slowly and fret not if you’re a bit scared to push, especially if you have sutures.
  • During breastfeeding you might feel unpleasant cramp-like contractions in your uterus. This means your uterus is getting smaller.
  • The first few days, you lose a lot more blood than during a normal period. But it should progressively lessen and will change into yellow/white discharge.

The Newborn Baby

In the uterus, the baby gets everything he needs through the umbilical cord. From the moment the baby is born, he will have to do everything on his own. The heart pumps blood to the lungs that open when the baby takes it’s first breath. The baby will start drinking, as well as urinating and stooling.

On the top of the head of every newborn are two soft spots called the fontanels. These are openings between the two parts of the skull. Thanks to the fontanels, the baby was afforded an easier passage through the birth canal. After the fist year, these fontanels will close on their own.

Even if your baby feeds well, it is normal for him to lose weight the first few days. The weight loss should not be more than 10 percent of the baby’s original weight. If so, contact your doctor. Very small and very large babies may require extra monitoring.

Newborn babies have an irregular breathing pattern and sometimes make noises when they breathe in and out. This is very normal. The little nose doesn’t have nose hairs yet which is a reason why they can suddenly sneeze, and by sneezing the baby can keep its airway clear. The sense of smell of a newborn is very well developed.  Many babies move a lot, these are reflexive movements. They don’t yet have control over their movements.

Don’t smoke near the baby. It is very bad for their young lungs.

A newborn needs love, affection, and safety.  If your baby keeps on crying, it is always best to pick him up and comfort him.

Babies love cuddling and attention. The more contact you have with your baby, the easier it will be to understand your baby and you can satisfy his needs. In the first half year of their life, it is not possible to spoil a baby. Comfort and cuddle your baby as much as you can. He will learn that he won’t be abandoned if he needs affection.

It is absolutely not necessary to let a baby cry in order to strengthen its lungs. They will get strong by themselves.

After this you can read more about the first time together, the new mom, partner, the newborn’s belly button stump, crying, feeding, positioning your baby in bed and much, much more.

This is an excerpt from the manual “The First 8 Days of Being a Mom” which details how to take care of yourself as well as your newborn, by Gea Meijering. Available on and  Gea Meijering gave birth to two sons on two different continents within twenty months. While going through that, she discovered that maternity care and recovery was organized totally different in the United States as compared to the Netherlands. Learn more about her story.

“The First 8 Days of Being a Mom is a wonderful practical guide for new moms. It’s an invaluable resource to tell you what is normal, what to expect and what to do for you and your baby’s first days together.” 

~ Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, authors of “My Best Birth” and filmmakers of “The Business of Being Born”