This chapter has information to help you prepare for your baby. It will also help you and your baby in your first few days at home.
If your baby was born in the hospital, you will stay about 24 hours if all is well. If you have midwifery care, this might be a home visit. If you had a c-section, you will likely stay a few days. This is a good time to ask questions about yourself, your baby, and about breast feeding. For many women, this is a time of joy and celebration with family and friends.
If you gave birth away from your home community, think about how you can stay connected with your family.
- You can bring small items or photos with you that remind you of home and family members to hold or to look at.
- You can talk on the phone or computer with family (Skype / WhatsApp etc).
- You take pictures or videos of your new baby to share with family when you get home.
- You can show your baby pictures of your home community and family members.
- Family members can send gifts for the baby, or plan a welcome when you return home.
It is important to care for yourself after you have a baby. You may be tired. Your body has gone through many changes. Take the time to rest. It is a good idea to try sleeping when your baby is sleeping. In some communities, the mother is expected to rest for 10 days after the birth. The first 4 days are especially important, by many they are considered a part of the ceremony that is birth and arrival of a new life.
Changes to your family life are normal with the birth of a new baby. The way things worked before your baby was born might be different now. This is also normal. Talk to important people in your life. You can also talk to your health care provider about new feelings, roles, or responsibilities.
A public health nurse or your midwife may visit you in your home to offer care towards keeping you and your baby healthy and well. This is a good time to ask about birth control, if you are interested. Women can get pregnant before their first period returns after birth.
Registering a Birth in Ontario
You can register your baby’s birth online, or you can ask someone to help you do this. You can also request a birth certificate in the same way.
Applying for Indian Status
Applications for Indian Status can be completed online or you can ask someone to help you do this.
Sense of Belonging
Once the child is born, how does the community support welcoming and nurturing and a sense of belonging right from day one? In some communities, each community member would welcome the baby. The baby would be passed around or greeted while in their parent’s arms. The baby belongs to the collective, and is supported by the collective. Thus the child knows responsibility to the community.
Changes to Your Body after Birth
There are many changes that will happen to your body after birth.
- You may feel contractions after birth – this is normal. Your womb (uterus) is going back to a smaller size.
- Afterpains are not usually felt after the
- You may feel afterpains most during breast feeding. This is normal because breast feeding helps the womb (uterus) return to its usual size.
- Afterpains usually go away after one week.
- If the afterpains don’t go away after a week, or are very painful, talk to your health care provider.
You might be considering spacing your children apart and how much time to wait. Now is a good time to consider your birth control options if you are interested. It is possible to become pregnant again before your period /moontime returns to you. Some birth control methods can effect breastfeeding. Have a discussion with your health care provider and/or go online to see options that would work for you. No one should be pressuring you into making permanent birth control decisions at this time.
Bleeding from Your Birth Canal (Vagina)
- You will have bleeding from your birth canal (vagina) for 2 to 6 weeks.
- At first, the bleeding will be heavy and dark but will slow down after a few days.
- The colour should change from red to brown to pink to white.
- Use a pad during this time. Do not use a tampon. Tampons can be dangerous and increase infection at this time.
- If the flow becomes heavier than usual or if large clots are coming out, contact your health care provider.
- If your blood smells bad, contact your health care provider.
- The area between your legs (perineum) may be sore or swollen.
- You can reduce the pain by freezing a damp maxi pad and putting it in your underwear.
- Some people find comfort by sitting in a warm bath. Sitz baths can also be helpful.
- Keep the area clean by washing with warm water after you use the toilet; usually midwives or hospitals provide squirt bottles to do this.
- If your stitches open, or you notice a bad smell, contact your health care provider.
- Having a poo (bowel movement) after having a baby can be difficult. Eating foods high in fibre like whole grains, fruit, and vegetables, and drinking lots of water helps. A glass of prune or pear juice a day can really help!
- Most people’s breasts/chest get firmer and bigger because milk is being made.
- Breast milk is yellow or clear at first. This is called colostrum. It is very healthy for your baby.
- Some people get hemorrhoids (painful bumps around your anus) during and after pregnancy. Eat foods high in fibre and drink lots of fluids. You can ask your health care provider for help.
Hard to Pee (Pass Urine)
- It may be hard to pee (pass urine) for a couple of days after your baby is born.
- Drink lots of fluids. Go to the toilet often, even if you don’t feel the need to pee
(pass urine) this will help reduce your bleeding.
- If it burns or hurts when you pee (pass urine), contact your health care provider.
Getting Your Period
- Your period may not start until after you stop breast feeding.
- If you are not breast feeding, your periods will probably start within 2 months of having your baby.
- Remember, you can still get pregnant even if you do not have your period. Talk to your health care provider about birth control options that are right for you.
- You may be very tired after your baby is born. You need time to heal and recover after giving birth. Taking care of a new baby can make parents very tired.
- Talk to your health care provider about when it is safe for you to have sex, usually it will be a month to six weeks.
- Wait until you are ready to have sex. Talk to your partner about how you are feeling. Explore other forms of intimacy if you feel up to it.
Physical Activity after Giving Birth
- Taking care of yourself helps you to take care of your baby. Being active after giving birth is good for your body, mind, and emotions.
- Ask your health care provider or public health nurse about activities after having a baby - avoid doing too much, too soon!
If you had a Caesarean section
- If you had a Caesarean section (C-section), you will need to take extra care and have extra rest while you heal internally.
- Talk to your health care provider about how to take care of yourself in the first few weeks after the baby is born.
- Ask for help.