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First Week After Childbirth: What To Expect

Chief Editor | Published on February 21, 2023

No matter how much preparation you have done, you may still find yourself feeling overwhelmed with new experiences and feelings after childbirth. So what can you expect in the first week after childbirth? For many parents, there has been so much build-up to the labour and delivery, that it can come as a shock to have a new baby that you need to take home and look after forever!

If you had a natural delivery without complications, you should be discharged from the hospital rather quickly, while a caesarean section will require you to stay in the hospital for a longer period of time. Take this extra time to rest — sleep will soon be in short supply!

Bringing Your Baby Home

The first week with a newborn is one you won’t forget. First things first, continue the schedule you started in the hospital for feeding, changing and settling your baby. Feeding may not be as easy as you think — newborns have unpredictable feeding schedules! Read our guide to feeding your baby here.

Additionally, you may notice that your baby breathes irregularly, alternating between fast and slow breaths with occasional pauses. While this is completely normal, do consult a doctor if your baby has consistently fast, laboured breathing, wheezing from the chest, or a hoarse cough as these symptoms could indicate that there are underlying medical conditions.

For newborns, you should be changing at least 4 wet diapers a day, and 1 or more diapers with poop. New babies typically sleep for 16 to 17 hours a day, but their tummies usually limit these naps to just 1 or 2 hours each time.

Read our top tips on taking care of your newborn here.

Why Do I Feel So Many Emotions?

Every mother’s reaction to childbirth varies — from the joy of bringing your baby into this world to sadness and maybe even a little detachment. While this is normal, make sure that you and your partner are familiar with the signs of postnatal depression.

If you are feeling tired, do not be shy to ask for help from your family members or friends. Additionally, it can be helpful to take a nap whenever your baby is asleep.

What Is Happening To My Body?

On the third or fourth day, your breasts may start to feel tight and sensitive as you start to produce milk. Be sure to wear a supportive bra if you are breastfeeding, and try to massage your nipple and areola before breastfeeding to promote a better flow.

Don’t be disheartened if you find that your belly is squashy and baggy. This is to be expected as your muscles have stretched. You should gradually return to your pre-pregnancy weight and shape if you eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.

You may also find yourself having feeling pain as your womb contracts, particularly if you are breastfeeding. In addition, it is normal to leak urine accidentally when you laugh, cough or move suddenly after giving birth. To reduce this, try Kegel exercises. 

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