What the First 24 Hours After a Home Birth Are Really Like
by Gretchen Bossio
Photograph by Twenty20
I’m a total birth story junkie. I love telling my story and I love hearing yours. Birth is just so magical, it's no wonder we want to rave about it and relive every moment.
So we do. We share and commiserate and whip out our iPhones and show off our favorite photos. We tell our tale and then most people’s stories end something like this, “And my baby was so perfect. [Enter stats.] We love them so. Now I’m off to snuggle that little sweetheart!” No one talks about what happens next.
Like the 24 hours after birth.
My post-birth story is a little unique because I had a home birth. And that’s what I want to share because, honestly, it’s just as special as the actual birth story. Here’s a peek at the first 24 hours after my baby was born at home.
ONE HOUR AFTER BIRTH
My baby was born at 9:01 p.m. on a Friday night. The perfect start to our weekend.
As soon as my 6-year-old daughter heard him cry, she came in with her grandma to catch the first glimpse of her baby brother. She oohed and ahhed and hovered over my shoulder to see him, exclaiming, “Adorable! Just like I knew he would be!”
Once Baby was out and in my arms, I moved from the birthing stool into bed. There, I held him and encouraged him to latch for the first time while we waited for contractions to help me birth the placenta. My husband cut the cord once it stopped pulsing and when my placenta plopped out, my doula bundled it up and took it downstairs to start the encapsulating process.
My midwife checked our vitals while I held him and my sister took a bunch of first-look photos. We stayed in bed for a full hour, just soaking in the birth bliss while my midwife’s team cleaned up the birth mess. No stains or signs of a baby being born were left behind.
TWO HOURS AFTER BIRTH
I got four stitches while baby had his newborn assessment right next to me. We learned that he weighed 11 pounds, 4 ounces. Oh. My. Goodness. It’s a good thing women don’t know how big their babies are before they have to push them out.
I shuffled to the bathroom and cleaned up a bit with the help of my midwife’s birth assistant. From my experience, the home birth community looks at you in awe and amazement after you give birth. They care for you deeply before and during birth, but especially after. This sweet women used a warm washcloth to wash my legs and feet, making sure any leftover blood splatters were cleaned up, and then helped me balance while I slipped into those glorious mesh underwear filled with a giant pad. My husband and I received newborn care instructions from our midwife and about hours hours after Baby was born, she and her team were on her way and we were alone.
We were in our space. With our smells, our comforts. There were no bright lights, no beeping.
THREE HOURS AFTER BIRTH
This is the beauty of home birth. We were in our space, with our smells, our comforts. There were no bright lights, no beeping. We settled into bed and set our alarms for Baby’s middle-of-the-night vitals check, knowing full well he would wake us before then.
SEVEN HOURS AFTER BIRTH
But he didn’t! I guess there's nothing like flying through the birth canal to wear you out and make you want to sleep for a stretch! I woke up on a total birth high and just stared at him for awhile. Then, I rustled him to nurse, while my husband helped me chart our temps, pulse, nursing and diaper changes. We all snuggled back into our cozy bed, rested. Seriously, the best stretch of sleep since before I was pregnant. It was such a joy and victory to have Baby outside of my body and in my arms.
TEN HOURS AFTER BIRTH
My 5-year-old slept through Baby’s birth the night before, so he came scampering in, thrilled to see a baby in my arms. We snuggled and brainstormed baby names while Daddy made a deluxe brunch of eggs, bacon and toast. Birth and nursing makes a mama mega hungry.
TWELVE HOURS AFTER BIRTH
Our doula finished encapsulating my placenta and delivered it so I could begin taking the pills. I took a sitz bath full of healing herbs and got dressed in a fresh pair of pajamas.
EIGHTEEN HOURS AFTER BIRTH
More of the same. Peace, snuggles, naps and snacks for all.
TWENTY HOURS AFTER BIRTH
Our midwife’s team arrived for our one-day follow-up appointment. Such a blessing to not have to pack up and go anywhere. They checked on Baby and me, deeming him as practically perfect and me to be healing as I should. We knew who to call if we had questions and made plans to see one another again in a week’s time.
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS AFTER BIRTH
By 24 hours post-birth, we settled back into bed to celebrate our healthy 1-day-old! How has it already been a whole day? I know I’ll say that for each day/week/year to come. The hormones are rushing in for sure and happy tears (and some stressed out ones too) are on the horizon. This mama is so in love and so happy to be resting and getting to know my little one. There really is no place like home.