8 Important Things to Do After You Give Birth
The moment you’ve been planning for and imagining is finally here: you just had a baby! While you’re holding that fresh bundle of joy in your arms, enjoy it and try not to worry about too much. There are just a few steps that are important to take right away.
Here’s what you should do after giving birth to your baby.
1. Share the News When You’re Ready
Some new parents choose to spread the news of their baby’s birth right away. Others wait a few days, weeks, or even longer.
While family and friends may be excited to hear baby news, remember that this is your child and your birth experience. You’re under no obligation to share this info until you’re ready. How and when to share the news is up to you.
2. Hold Your Baby Against Your Skin
An effective way to bond is to hold your baby so your skin touches theirs. Skin-to-skin contact releases a feel-good hormone called oxytocin, which helps create an emotional bond between parents and babies, according to research.
3. Feed, Feed, Feed
In the early days, feeding will be a big focus. You may have been told that newborns need to feed every 2–3 hours. But it’s also common for them to cluster feed in the days right after birth. That means they’re hungry and want to feed almost constantly. This can be exhausting, but it’s part of the natural process of helping your milk supply come in.
Feeding can be a tough skill to master. You and your baby are both learning at the same time. So be patient and stick with it.
Ask for help from a nurse or lactation consultant while you’re learning. Studies suggest that the most effective chest/breastfeeding support is in-person and ongoing, not just when you’re struggling.
4. Pay Attention But Don’t Stress About the How-Tos
A nurse will likely instruct you on postpartum and baby care before you leave the hospital or birthing center. This will include how-tos like bathing, feeding, and how to care for the umbilical cord stump.
It’s a lot of info, so don’t stress about remembering it all. Most hospitals and birth centers send new parents home with folders or packets full of info they’ll need. These usually include instructions on caring for a newborn and caring for yourself after delivery, Andrea L. Braden, M.D., says. Braden is a board-certified ob-gyn in Atlanta and lactation consultant with Lybbie.
“Many information packets also have QR codes for easy access to online resources,” Braden adds.
5. Do Paperwork
It’s very important to get your baby added to your health insurance plan. That way, the costs of their medical care can be covered. Contact your insurance carrier to find out how to do this. You may need to call or follow an online registration process to get your baby added. Do this within 30 days of birth to avoid any extra charges.
The hospital or birth center staff should give you the paperwork to start your baby’s birth certificate. You can submit this before you go home.
For the birth certificate, you’ll need to provide your baby’s name and info about the legal parents. Check with the staff about what to do next. In some areas, parents automatically receive the completed certificate by mail. In other places, parents are required to request the certificate.
6. Rest and Care for Yourself
You’re likely sore and tired from giving birth. Your body has a lot of healing to do!
To help promote healing, rest as much as you can. Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. For more ways to care for yourself, see our articles on recovery from a vaginal birth and recovery from a c-section.
7. Make an Appointment for a Postpartum Checkup
Call your pregnancy care provider and schedule your first postpartum checkup. For many people, this will be about 2–6 weeks after the birth.
This appointment allows your doctor or midwife to check on your healing and see how you’re doing emotionally. You’ll be able to discuss any concerns you have about your recovery or mental health.
8. Ask for Help and Support
This one’s not easy for everyone: Ask for and accept help, Leigh Anne O'Connor, a board-certified lactation consultant in New York City, suggests.
If you’re lucky enough to have people in your life who can help, tell them what kind of help is most important to you. “Be specific about what you want or need,” O’Connor says. Some parents want help with the baby but others prefer to have someone do household chores, for example.
A postpartum doula can also provide in-home support while you heal and adjust. Ask your insurance carrier if your plan helps cover the cost of the doula.
Consider other ways you may be able to make this time period a bit easier. “I budgeted for a cleaning lady to deep clean once a month for the first few months postpartum,” Danielle Smith, a NICU nurse and mom of two from Michigan, says. “Worth every penny!”
Consider joining a local support group for new parents. Or talk to other parents here in the Twill Care pregnancy community. Emotional support can go a long way in helping you adjust to life with a new baby.
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