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Mum and baby's first 24 hours after birth

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

The first day of your child's life will fly by in a whirl of medical checks and getting started with feeding. Read our survival guide.

Your baby’s first test

The APGAR test will be carried out when your baby is one minute old and again at five minutes to check Appearance, Pulse, Grimace (her response to stimulation), Activity and Respiration. She will be given a mark out of 10, with between seven and 10 considered normal.

  • Your baby will be weighed and the circumference of her head measured. All data is entered onto her developmental chart, which your health visitor will give you as part of her Personal Child Health Record when your baby is about 10 days old.
  • Within 72 hours old, she will have a full newborn examination. This is a top-to-toe check up including checking her heart, hips and eyes and, for boys, their testes too.


Mum's body after giving birth

The placenta

What about you? You may be given drugs to speed up the delivery of your placenta, which will happen five to 10 minutes after you’ve delivered your baby. If you’re delivering your placenta without drugs, it will take longer but the nurses will be there to help you and there are a few tricks to getting it to move, like squatting.

After this, your body will release the lining of the womb in a discharge called lochia. At first it's bright red blood, then it becomes brownish and, finally, a yellowish white colour. This will continue for anything between two and six weeks, so make sure you have a good supply of maternity pads. The more you rest, the lighter the lochia will be.

If you’ve had stitches

Any minor grazes and tears to the neck of the womb, the vagina and the perineum (the area between your vagina and anus) usually heal quite quickly on their own. Recovering from an episiotomy (a surgical cut in the perineum) may take longer, and the stitches may be a bit painful for a few days or weeks. It’s unlikely that you’ll need to pass a stool in the first 24 hours, so don’t worry that you might be constipated. If nothing’s happened by day three, speak to your health visitor about what to do.

After a caesarean

If you’ve had a caesarean, you may have needed a general anaesthetic, and not been conscious during the birth. Some mums feel very disappointed about this but organising a birthing review with your carers and talking about what happened and why can help you come to terms with this.

There’s no getting around the fact that a Caesarean is major abdominal surgery and you will experience pain afterwards. You’ll be given pain-killing drugs and be encouraged to walk from six hours after the operation, to make sure your circulation is okay. You’ll have to stay in hospital for at least three days and take it easy for six to eight weeks.

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