Sydney Obstetrician Gynaecologist
RN, MBBS, FRANZCOG

What To Expect When You're Pregnant : Once your Baby is Born

From birth to six week appointment

Your bundle of joy has arrived safely! Congratulations and well done. At your six week visit we will discuss the birth and how you have been coping since.

How You May Feel

Physically

It takes about six weeks for your body to heal and adjust to not being pregnant. You may feel sore and very tired afterwards, especially if you have had a caesarean section and may have some bleeding and after-pains as your uterus shrinks. This is called postpartum (or the postpartum period) and your body goes through many changes as you recover.

Emotionally

Your whole life has changed and you’ll may feel incredibly joyful. You may also be overwhelmed, as you ride the emotional roller coaster of postpartum hormones, deal with sleep deprivation and adjust to your changing body, all while caring for your newborn. Most women experience what’s called the ‘baby blues’ between the third and tenth day after birth, including tearfulness, anxiety and mood fluctuations. But if you are feeling depressed, completely overwhelmed, struggling to connect in any way with your baby or unable to return to your usual self, call your GP or seek support straight away. See our Questions section for helpful links and advice.

What You Can Expect From Me

Straight after the birth

When I see you in hospital after the birth, I’ll first of all admire your beautiful new arrival and share in your delight! I’ll ensure your pain relief is adequate and your bleeding is slowing and give you some information to take home with you explaining in how to take care of bleeding and post-op or post-birth wound care. I’ll be there to answer any questions or concerns you may have and share a list of tips that people gave me when taking home a newborn child. I’ll also give you numbers to call if you need help.

At your six week checkup

This is when I’ll see if you have any emotional concerns and how you’ve been handling life since the birth. On the physical side, I’ll check how you’re recovering, including any bleeding, your bladder and bowel functions and arrange any necessary follow-up e.g. endocrine or renal specialist.I’ll assess your caesar scar or perineurium and perform your pap smear if due. This is also a chance for us to discuss family planning and contraceptives going forward.

Your baby’s health record will be in the “blue book” given to you by the hospital. On the back are some very useful numbers and 24-hour hotlines, info about your local early childhood centres and mother’s groups.

For more reading, here’s a great website about postnatal recovery. Another great resource to utilise is raisingchildren.net.au, which is full of independent information to help your family grow and thrive.

Questions You May Have

When will my bleeding stop?

Most women experience heavy bleeding initially, but as the weeks go by it should decrease and become less red. If you experience an increase in the amount, blood clots or bleeding becomes offensive(??) call me. Read more about bleeding in the RANZCOG brochure The first few weeks following birth.

How do I find out all about breastfeeding?

If you choose to breastfeed, the midwives caring for you are all experts in helping you to establish feeding. As a North Shore obstetrician I recommend the North Shore Private Hospital feeding clinic which is an excellent source of ongoing support. Call (02) 8425 3280. When you leave the hospital you’ll be given a list of lactation consultants who can come to your home. The early childhood nurses are also an excellent source of support. For more, visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association website.

How do I set a routine with my newborn?

After arriving home with your newborn baby, your world can be turned upside down. Establishing a routine can be very difficult. Here are some tips and links to help you. Raising Children Network: http://raisingchildren.net.au/ Tresillian: http://www.tresillian.net/ Hello Baby: http://www.amazon.com/Hello-Baby-Jenni-Overend/dp/1845071107 Westmead Children’s Hospital Fact Sheets: http://kidshealth.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/fact-sheets

Can I still drive?

If you’ve had a caesarean section, there are no universal guidelines to advise when you can start driving again. It is recommended that you contact your insurance company regarding any policy requirements or exclusions relating to driving.

Where do I go / who do I call if I’m not coping?

The symptoms of depression and anxiety can be a little harder to identify and deal with when you are pregnant or coping with a newborn. This is because it’s a time of huge physical and emotional change and adjustment.

If you have any concerns after you go home, call me or your local GP. Some symptoms of depression and anxiety may include feeling numb, hopeless, often close to tears, unable to cope, not looking after yourself properly. If you ever start thinking that your partner or baby would be better off without you, or you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, seek professional help immediately.

Here are some useful links:

Tresillian Family Care Centres: http://www.tresillian.net/

Gidget Foundation (Gidegt House): http://www.gidgetfoundation.com.au/about/index/gidget-house.html

Panda: http://www.panda.org.au/

Beyond Blue: http://www.beyondblue.org.au/

Karitane: http://karitane.org.au/

And some helpful reading:

‘Beyond The Baby Blues’ by Seana Smith

‘The New Mother Syndrome’ by Carol Dix

‘The Birth of the Modern Mum’ by Heather Irvine

When can I have sex again?

It’s really up to you when you feel comfortable. There are no medical guidelines on this issue.

Things To Do and Checklists

  • Book your six week appointment after leaving hospital.

Still Curious?

With so many public forums online, it’s easy to get opinion confused with verifiable fact. I think the best places to go for information (apart from calling me) are:

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Having a Baby, NSW Department of Health