The First 48 Hours Postpartum For Mom

As you’ve read, I had the baby.  (If you didn’t read yet, click HERE) While it was a rollercoaster of a ride – unassisted, on the bedroom floor – the last 48 hours seem to be a blur.  Just as my birth plan flew out the window, my golden hour was not as I had imagined it.  I had pictured this peaceful time bonding with my husband, children, and new baby boy, but in reality, I was trying to digest that we had just delivered our own child before a birth team could arrive.  Mix that in with it being the middle of the night, waking siblings up, and the high that comes with unmedicated child birth, and the golden hour was quite the experience.  The first twelve hours after Ollie arrived were spent “ooing and ahing” over him and trying to get all the kids back to sleep – and getting a few hours of sleep ourselves.  The midwife spent the night and made us breakfast the following morning.  (There are several unknown perks to homebirthing!) As I have been laying around, taking it all in, I decided to take note of the first two days postpartum.  Ollie is baby #4, and I have learned something new with each birth.  I figured that you may like a comprehensive list of what to expect, what to look for, and products to invest in for both you and baby. I’m going to include everything that I have experienced as well as the most common things to occur in the first 48 hours after having a baby.  This article will specifically address you, the mother, and what to expect.  My next article will reference the baby’s first two days of life! Note: This article is referencing a healthy, normal, vaginal birth free of any major complications.

The First 48 Hours Postpartum: Mom

The Adrenaline Rush/High:  I have run a marathon, won a world fighting title (That’s right, I’m so super cool that I have a black belt and held a title at 16-17 years old – ignore that that was 17 years ago please), walked under waterfalls, climbed mountains, and married the love of my life.  I am here to say that there is absolutely NO high like giving birth unmedicated.  I haven’t experienced a medicated birth, but I’m sure there is an amazing high!  I always feel superhuman – as though I am a birth goddess who just did the most amazing thing – the thing I was meant to do – birth a baby.  I tend to feel so ‘high’ that I cannot imagine falling.  I could take over the world after a birth.  This high lasts the first 2 days for me.  I don’t hit a wall of exhaustion until day 3.  But this is different for every birthing woman. Skin to Skin:  Practicing kangaroo care, being skin to skin and chest to chest with your newborn provides more benefits than I can list here! Lochia (Bleeding): I took Alfalfa supplements this pregnancy in hopes to lessen my birth and postpartum bleeding.  I cannot tell you how amazed I am!  With babies 1-3, I bled A LOT after birth.  I have always been given an herbal tea to drink immediately to help stop the bleeding.  This birth was the opposite.  I had almost no bleeding immediately.  By 12 hours postpartum though, lochia had started. Call the midwife if you fill two pads in one hour or if the discharge becomes foul-smelling.  In the first few days after birth, bleeding will be similar to a heavy menstrual period, both in color and amount.  Clots may be passed, especially when getting up after you have been lying down.  Massage your uterus if you are bleeding heavily during the first 24 hours and as often as you think of it the first few days.  It should feel like a grapefruit at or below the level of your navel.  Discharge should turn to a brownish color and lessen steadily after the first few days.  If fresh red bleeding persists or returns, decrease your activity level and call your midwife Breastfeeding: Colostrum is ready at birth.  Your newborn will only need drops at a time, as his stomach is the size of a marble.  Remember that this liquid gold is nature’s vaccine for baby.  Your body creates this milk specifically to meet the needs of your newborn.  My breasts are engorged by 24 hours after birth, but this is really early for most women.  By 48 hours, you should be noticing your milk coming in. The latch is very important, as is creating the breastfeeding relationship.  The first two days should be spent doing nothing more than admiring your newborn and nursing him.  There is no schedule or anything more important than working on his latch.  It does not come naturally and must actually be taught to most babies.  I cannot stress just how wonderful it is to have a lactation consultant on hand during this timeframe.  The hospital will have one, but a birth center or homebirth may require reaching out and having one come to your home. After Birth Pains:  The contractions seem to never end, and I have learned that the after birth pains worsen with each birth.  These ‘pains’ are the contractions your uterus requires to get back to its original size. No one seems to talk about just how painful they are though.  This time around, I wanted to cry.  As you breastfeed, it will trigger the contractions.  Yes, they are painful, but they are needed.  You want your uterus back in shape quickly. (Also, the tincture “AfterEase” is amazing in helping with the pain.) Herbal Bath:  This healing tradition smells and feels glorious – and is reason for you to be alone, in a quiet room with (or without) your newborn.  I bring baby in with me, as the herbs are fine for the umbilical cord.  I do not wash baby though – we rub vernix into his skin and wait 1-2 weeks before a real bath.  Herbal baths are recommended throughout the first 2 weeks after giving birth, but I try to get 3-4 in during the first week to help my cervix and body heal. Soreness:  Having a baby can be compared to running a marathon.  Within 24 hours afterward, every single muscle hurts.  I mean even the inside of the elbows is sore.  I don’t know why EVERY part of the body hurts, but it does – every time.  Stretching feels wonderful.  I skip the Tylenol and medications and reach for Arnica.  This birth, I started taking it immediately after birth and my soreness is nothing like the other 3.  (That may be because the other labors were 7 hours long and this one was an hour??  Or I’ll just thank the arnica!) Exhaustion:  For me this is day 3, but I am including it because if you labored for 20 hours, you’ll hit your wall sooner.  It’s as if the body just physically becomes heavy.  You will need to sleep through this, fighting it is not healthy. Bowel Movement:  I feel like this is the scariest part postpartum.  You just pushed out a baby, and now you are expected to poop.  PLEASE take a natural laxative, it will make the experience so much easier. Urinating:  Chances are that you received a little friction burn to your urethra during birth.  It is more common than not.  This tiny little burn can cause a heck of a lot of pain while pee’ing! Make sure to keep a perri bottle full of warm water next to the  toilet.  Start quirting before you start to urinate!   Products I LOVED:
  • Arnica
  • After Ease Tincture
  • Ice packs: for your oh so sore lady parts
  • Heating pad: cramps, back ache, and warming baby
  • Chiropractor – not a product, but you have to pay, so I’m including it!!  My chiropractor is a godsend right now.  I saw him on day 2 to adjust baby and myself.
  • Pads: overnight sized for the first two days.
  • Bottom spray – I love Earth Mama Angel Baby brand!
  • Perri bottle
  • Tucks
  • Old underwear: GRANNY PANTY style.
  • Herbal bath: you can order through etsy, midwives or local “crunchy” groups
  • Champagne: DUH.   This is a celebration!
  • Food: A well-stocked pantry and a refrigerator full of produce is a must!
  • Water Bottle: A BIG one.
  • Night gown:  something loose fitting that you can sleep and nurse in, bubt does not hug your mid-section.
  • Chux pads/puppy pads:  Keep these under you the first few nights as you may bleed through your pad – or your milk may come in and cause extreme leaking.  These pads can save you from washing the sheets when you wake up.
  • Placenta Pills (Mine are done by 48 hours after birth if they are picked up right away)
  •  SLEEP whenever possible
  •  Have family or friends help
  • Hire a postpartum doula (if you are not near family or friends)
  • Call the lactation consultant
  • Take a vegetable based, natural laxative at the end of day 1
  • Engorgement HURTS:  Breastfeed as often as your newborn is awake. Use bagged, frozen peas to help the pain, take arnica around the clock, and pump just enough to relieve the swelling so baby can latch well.  Over-pumping will trigger an over-supply and make the body produce even more milk.
  • Massage your uterus often
  • Let go of expectations
  •  Infection prevention:  Wash your hands each time before you change your pad.  Check your temperature if you feel any cold or flu-like symptoms.  Uterine pain and/or foulsmelling discharge with a fever are signs of uterine infection.  A tender breast with body aches and fever may indicate mastitis.
  •  Call Your Midwife:  I mean with absolutely ANY question.  This is baby #4 and I called mine twice – once about shallow latch nursing and then again to have her look at Ollie for a jaundice opinion.  Your midwife does not disappear once baby is born. If anything, she becomes a constant in your life because of your pregnancy and birth!


Call the midwife immediately if you have any of the following:
  • Fever greater than 100.4F
  • Any sign of localized swelling or tenderness in your breasts, especially if accompanied by body aches or fever.  These are symptoms of a breast infection
  • Tender or sore nipples when nursing.  These are signs of a poor latch that can be fixed very quickly in order to avoid nursing problems
  • Any sign of swelling or infection around the vagina, especially if you had a tear
  • Discomfort or burning when you urinate, having difficulty in urinating, or being unable to completely empty the bladder
  • Sharp pains in your abdomen, chest, or breast
  • Blurred vision or dizziness, with or without a headache
  • Headache
  • Pain in your legs, especially the calf muscles, when you extend your foot
  • A foul smell or unexpected change in your bleeding (heavy bleeding and/or clotting after the first week) especially with uterine pain and fever
  • Bleeding lasting more than six weeks
  • Any strong sense that something is “wrong” with you or the baby
  • Crying spells or mood swings that feel out of control or do not get better with more sleep, rest, and nutrition
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
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