Now that the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has finally given birth to her beautiful baby boy (all 8lbs 6oz of him!) it's time for her to rest, recover and rejuvenate overnight in hospital.
We spoke to My Own Midwife's Director, Catherine Chmiel, to find out more about Kate's post-pregnancy care and what all new mums should expect from their first couple of days with baby...
How long does it take the average woman to recover after childbirth?
It all depends on the type of delivery, but if it's normal with no complications, a new mum should feel back to normal in about 24 hours. Even if you've had a caesarean section, the guidelines say you should be feeling better after 24 hours even though you won't be completely healed after this time. Some women are allowed home after a day.
What sort of complications would warrant being kept in for longer?
A long labour, an assisted delivery with instruments (forceps), a C-section with complications or significant blood loss would all result in being kept in hospital. There's always an element of blood loss but if there's a post birth haemorrhage that would require a woman to stay in hospital longer.
Do you think Kate will be kept in longer for observation because she's royal?
I don't think they will keep her in longer than necessary, but realistically the whole process will be determined by Kate herself. The midwives around her will check she feels confident with baby and whether she's breastfeeding or not. Some women need extra support to start breastfeeding when it's their first baby because it's a completely new experience. She may want to stay in hospital for her own peace of mind for a few extra days - normally post-birth care is patient led.
What's the best ways for women to take care of themselves after labour?
A good healthy diet is essential and lots of water to keep well hydrated. Obviously rest and sleep when possible - we always advise women with babies who have unsettled sleep to rest when baby is resting. Sometimes it's easier said than done, but that's what we recommend. Lots of support from friends and relatives is always good for new mums. It's important to ease yourself into motherhood in the early days.
A healthy diet is the most important thing. There's an element of blood loss following delivery and women's iron levels tend to drop. To avoid becoming anaemic, women should eat lots of fresh fruit, green leafy vegetables and iron-rich red meat and beans. Even chocolate with 80% or more cocoa contains iron, so you can still treat yourself.
Check out our gallery of 10 foods you should eat after giving birth...
Is it true that some women can experience hair loss post-pregnancy? We don't want Kate to lose her luscious locks!
Hair loss is very very rare, but it is associated with some ladies following delivery or during pregnancy. Experts aren't sure why it happens, but it's thought to be caused by drastic hormonal changes that impact hair follicles.
What other post-birth complications can women suffer from?
Incontinence can be an issue, but that depends on the individual circumstances during delivery. Sometimes stress incontinence can occur where women leak urine but this is just a case of a weakened pelvic floor which needs to re-strengthen following delivery. Obviously the pelvic floor has never had to stretch in that way before, but there shouldn't be anything long term. In some very rare cases women have tears which can cause incontinence, but this will always be treated by doctors.
How can women slim down safely after giving birth without putting too much pressure on themselves?
Breastfeeding is a good way to slim down after giving birth. The natural hormones that produce breast milk are the same as the hormones required to contract the womb. The more the womb contracts the quicker it will return back into the pelvis and your stomach will appear 'less pregnant' or more similar to your pre-pregnant shape. Women should also try pelvic floor exercises to strengthen their muscles.
The trick is to eat healthily and do everything in moderation - a good diet will make you feel and look better. Your skin will look brighter if you have a healthy diet and a happy side-effect is losing excess weight. There's no reason to feel pressured into shedding the pounds or returning to your 'old' figure. As long as you and your baby are happy everything else shouldn't matter.
Should new mums try and set up a routine in the first couple of days after giving birth?
With a newborn it's important to just focus on what the baby wants. Things are going to be out of sync for a while and it might take you a few weeks to work up a routine. We always say to implement a set bath time at the end of the day to settle baby down and get them in the mood for sleep following a feed. This isn't research based, but it's just a way of developing a family routine that makes life easier and more normal. So the parents know what's happening just as much as the baby.
My Own Midwife is a private maternity and midwifery service based in the North West of England. The three ex-NHS midwives who run MUM are experts in pregnancy, labour and birth, as well as post-birth issues such as feeding, bathing and sleeping.
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