What to Expect After Delivery
Right after birth, you will be able to hold your baby. In most cases, your baby will be weighed and examined in the labor and delivery room right in front of you.
If you or your baby have special medical needs or need special procedures during labor or birth, a team of pediatric caregivers will be present when your baby is born.
In some cases, your baby may need to go to the nursery for special care. Generally, babies stay in the nursery for a short time and then return to your room. You and your partner are welcome in the nursery to hold and feed your baby; when you want to visit your baby in the nursery, please ask your nurse.
After you and your baby have had time to recover, often times you will be transferred from the labor and delivery room to a postpartum room. Check with your hospital about its specific room arrangements.
Throughout your hospital stay, your heart rate, temperature and blood pressure will be checked often. Your health care provider also will check the size of your uterus and rub your abdomen to keep your uterus firm and to reduce bleeding.
You will be encouraged to get up and walk around as soon as possible.
Feeding your baby
If you have chosen to breastfeed, you can start soon after birth (within 30 to 60 minutes after birth). Your baby's sucking will help stimulate your milk flow and will stimulate the uterus to contract to its normal size more quickly. Make sure you feel comfortable feeding your baby before you go home. Help with breastfeeding is available. Visit with a lactation consultant or nurse who can observe you breastfeeding and help you comfortably and properly feed your baby.
If you have chosen to feed your baby formula, please ask your nurse for the formula when you're ready to feed your baby. You should bottle feed your baby within one to two hours after birth.
Getting to know your baby
The best way to learn how to take care of your newborn is to spend a lot of time with him or her. Find out if your hospital offers infant rooming-in. This is when your baby stays with you and your partner in your room from birth until you go home. Rooming-in with your baby helps you learn your baby's cues: how he or she responds when hungry, tired or wants to be held. If your hospital offers rooming-in but you are feeling too tired, you have the option of having your baby go to the nursery if desired.
Your health care provider will probably ask you to keep a record of when and how much (time on breast or ounces of formula) your baby eats. Your health care provider may give you a form to record this information. It's important to record when you change your baby's diaper and whether it was urine or a bowel movement. Your nurse will give you a form to record this information.
Your nurse can help you learn your baby's cues. Your partner or members of the nursing staff can help you care for your baby if needed.
You may want to limit visitors for the first few hours after birth, since you and your partner will be tired and may want to spend time alone with your baby.
Check with your hospital regarding visiting hours and their policy on child visitors under age 12. Before holding your baby, visitors should wash their hands to protect your baby from germs. Please ask visitors who are sick or have a fever, cough or runny nose to visit the baby when they are well.
How long will I stay in the hospital?
Check about the specific laws in your state. Many states require insurance companies, by law, to provide coverage for 48 hours after a vaginal birth and 96 hours after a cesarean birth.
The length of your hospital stay will depend on the type of birth you had and how you and your baby are feeling. Your health care provider will talk with you about you and your baby's readiness to go home. Together you will decide the length of stay that's best for you and your baby. If your stay is less than 48 hours (or less than 96 hours if you had a cesarean birth), your hospital may arrange for a nurse to come to your house to evaluate how you and your baby are doing. Ask your health care provider if this is a service that is offered.
Before you go home, your health care provider will perform a physical exam and teach you how to care for you and your newborn. The health care provider will answer your questions to help assure a smooth transition for you at home.
If you have been discharged from the hospital but your baby needs to stay for observation, medication or other medical procedures, you may be able to stay in the hospital, but in a different room. Ask your hospital about their specific policy.
Before you leave the hospital
Make an appointment for baby's first checkup. This should be scheduled when your baby is two weeks old.
If you are bottle feeding, make sure you know the brand of formula your child's doctor recommends. The hospital usually sends you home with enough formula to last the first few days after delivery.
How should I prepare for our first ride home?
As you may know, all state laws require children less than 4 years old and less than 40 pounds to be secured in an approved, properly used child safety seat while being transported in a motor vehicle.
Be sure to have an infant car seat that meets federal safety standards. It is a good idea to bring your baby's car seat to your hospital room on the day of discharge. When you are ready to go home, place your baby in the safety seat and adjust the straps as needed. If you need help, please ask your health care provider. Put the baby's safety seat in the back seat of the car (facing the back of the car) and be sure to follow the instructions on the safety seat so that it is properly secured in your motor vehicle.
If you have questions about child safety seats, please call the Auto Safety Hotline at (800) 424-9393.
Within the first week after you leave the hospital, schedule a follow-up appointment with your health care provider for 4-6 weeks after delivery. In some cases, you may need to have an earlier follow-up visit.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional written health information, please contact the Health Information Center at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771 or visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health This document was last reviewed on: 9/9/2002