Thanks to a very lovely reader, KP, for the suggestion to do a post on what happens after baby is born. What a fabulous idea!
Okay, so you've checked in, packing, of course, only what I've previously mentioned, and have pushed your sweet little babe into the world. What happens now?!
Dr. So and So will likely have delivered your slippery baby onto your tummy...mama bellies make for great holding places for slippery little babes...and, unbeknownst to you, your babe is already being scrutinized.
Heartrate is ___?
All whilst being "cleaned". And by "cleaned" I mean, "vigorously rubbed so as to make your baby cry because we don't spank any more and we really want your baby to cry to clear out his or her lungs". Hey, this L&D thing isn't all just rocking babies. (Actually, it's very little of that.)
At some point during the vigorous rub down, your labor support person will be graciously handed a giant scissors with which they can cut the baby's cord. Warning: IT IS CHEWY.
The umbilical cord, that is, not the scissors. And, yes, I did just said "chewy" in regards to an umbilical cord...no, I've not actually "chewed" an umbilical cord, but it's not one quick snip through and it's done, it takes a few (sometimes several) snips to get all the way through. Be prepared.
What happens next depends upon the wishes of the sweet young mother...and sweet young mothers fall into one of three categories: 1. "Do not take my sweet little infant off my chest so help me God I will leap out of this bed and tackle you." 2. "Meh. Do whatcha need to do. I've got the next 18 years with this kid." or 3. "Take this slimy creature off of me ASAP and DO NOT bring it back until it resembles the baby I dreamt up in my mind!".
If you are a "1", your babe will be tucked in under your gown, nestled close to your breast, delaying the "baby tasks" (I'll get to that in a sec.) until you're ready.
If you are a "3", your babe will be whisked away to an awaiting stabilet where we will band, secure, measure, weight, footprint and photograph AS WELL AS CLEAN UP your slimy little creature and then give him or her back to you, all dried off, diapered, hatted and swaddled like only L&D nurses can swaddle a baby.
If you are a "2", with an indifference to whether babe gets cleaned up or stays with you, I'll totally level with you here...we nurses become very task oriented at delivery time. We have "stuff" we have to get done and if you don't care? Well then, consider yourself a "3", 'cuz that babe will likely be zipped right over to the stabilet (which, btw, is the little warmer bed thingamajig we have for babies after delivery) for after delivery "tasks".
What are these "tasks" you ask? Well, weight. That's usually the one that sends babies to us the quickest...sweet young parents are often dying to know the weight of their baby.
Vital signs...the most important to us.
Measurements (length and head, at our hospital...maybe also chest at others?).
Banding (where you and your baby get bands with matching numbers...make sure this is done before your babe ever leaves your sight. No chance for banding the wrong baby this way.).
Securement (security device placed on your infant...not sure how prevalent this is throughout hospitals, but I know it's a growing trend. You can't take infant security too seriously.).
Photo (another security piece).
Let's back up just a second, though...say your babe comes out and is, well, less than vigorous. All bets are off. I don't care how strong of a "1" you are, if your baby needs help, he will be taken to the stabilet for a "jump start". Hopefully, all that will entail is some more vigorous rubbing, but sometimes a baby needs much more than that. (Which is an entirely different post.)
Research has shown that it's best for babies to not be bathed for at least two hours following birth, all hospital policies differ, but just be aware that your baby might not be squeaky clean and smelling like Johnson and Johnson's before your first visitors arrive.
Sorry about that...but your baby's blood sugar thanks us.
Now...how about for mom?
Well...while the nurses are tending to the baby, the doctor has his sights set on your placenta, which is likely still tucked up, nice and warm, inside of you. At some point, your placenta will release it's grip on your uterus and you will suddenly have another urge to push (or, simply be asked to push) and PLOP! Out comes your placenta.
Then, the nurse that stuck by your side through the throes of labor and whom you've declared your love for and insisted upon naming your first child after? Suddenly she becomes your worst nightmare...because she has to massage and knead and rub on that vacated uterus of yours to make sure it stays nice and firm and you don't lose oodles of blood.
You will likely be started on a fast drip of oxytocin, (aks "Pitocin"), ugh, but hey, we're talking about what happens, not my opinions, right? Right. So, Pitocin. Cranked up. Friends, say hello to "after pains". I'm sorry.
While the doctor is doing any repairs to your bottom, you will be getting serial (as in "a lot") of blood pressures, pulse measurements, maybe oxygen measurements and being asked, "So, what's his name?!"
If you had an epidural, it was likely turned off right after baby was out. The catheter from the epidural will come out at some point in the next couple of hours, if not right away...you'll remember it by the stinging burn as we rip off the tape the anesthesiologist glued (yes, I said GLUED) to your skin.
Oh, and if you didn't know before that we all have a multitude of teeny tiny fine little hairs on our lower backs, you'll know as they are all yanked out by the epidural dressing. Fun times, I know.
Soon enough, you will be smiled upon with a kind woman cleaning off your lower half, giving you fresh pads for your bed and an ice pack for your bottom. Oh, and I forgot...the leg part of your bed? It comes off to assist with delivering your babe...it will be replaced after the cleaning/pad/ice pack bit.
And then...then you can revel (sort of...at least in between vital signs for you, vital signs for baby, baby medication administration, and mashing on your uterus) in the glory that is your sweet little bundle.
Congratulations, sweet young mother! You just had a baby.