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If the skin and muscle around your vaginal opening does not stretch enough to allow the baby's head to come out, your care provider may make the opening larger by cutting an episiotomy. This small incision and any tears that occur are repaired with stitches after the birth of your baby, and they generally heal quickly.

After the baby's head is out, your care provider will tell you not to push while the baby's mouth and nose are being cleaned out. This is done to prevent your baby from breathing in anything left in his mouth when he takes his first breath. When you push again, you will give one final push. Open your eyes and see your baby enter this world. The baby will be quickly dried off and handed to the specialized nursery staff that will take care of this precious miracle. If both you and your baby are medically stable, you may be able to hold your baby immediately. Many babies of high-risk mothers need to be in the neonatal intensive care nursery. You will be unable to accompany your baby to the intensive care nursery immediately after delivery; therefore, you may want your partner or another family member to stay by your baby's side and ask questions.

The remainder of your recovery and postpartum period will be similar to that of a mother who gave birth to a full-term infant. The biggest difference is being separated from your newborn for a short time.

A Few Thoughts on Cesarean Birth

For many mothers, surgical delivery is necessary. This is most commonly referred to as a cesarean section (C-section) delivery, where the baby is delivered through an incision made in the lower part of your abdomen and uterus. This, of course, is done under anesthesia so that you do not feel any pain, although some women may sense pressure as the surgeons remove the baby.

If a cesarean birth was necessary, your recovery will be a little different from a mother who gave birth vaginally:

  • You may have a catheter in your bladder for several hours after surgery.
  • You will be encouraged to change positions frequently, take deep breaths, and cough to help keep your lungs clear of fluid. The nurses will show you how to position a pillow over your incision for support and to decrease discomfort. This is critically important, because high-risk moms who require surgical delivery are generally at very high risk for developing fluid in their lungs.
  • You must not begin to eat until it is recommended by your doctors. Sometimes you may be asked not to eat until you have passed gas. This is a sign that the bowels are working. Eating too soon can be harmful and extremely painful. Walking around will help get the gas moving.

Do not let this surgery keep you from mothering your baby. If your baby is in the intensive care nursery, have instant snapshots taped to your bed. Talk with nursery personnel frequently for updates on your baby's condition. If you are stable, you should be able to visit the nursery very soon. You may need some extra help, but plan to hold, feed, and care for your baby.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH on September 18, 2014

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