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After the birth

Routine checks

Once your placenta has come out, your midwife will ask how you are feeling, measure your blood pressure, pulse and temperature, and check that you are able to empty your bladder.

Unless your baby is unwell, you should have time with him or her (at least 1 hour) before your midwife measures your baby's weight and head size, takes his or her temperature and carries out any other checks. Any checks on your baby should be with your agreement, and in your presence unless this is not possible.

If you need stitches

Your perineum (the area between your vagina and anus) may tear during birth. If this happens to you, your midwife will assess whether you need stitches or whether it will heal on its own. In most cases you will be advised to have stitches, and your midwife should then explain what will happen and why. You will need stiches if you have had an episiotomy.

You should be assessed and have any stitches you need as soon as possible after the birth, to reduce the chances of infection and blood loss. You can usually hold your baby if you want to while having stitches. If you have serious bleeding, your stitches will need to be done straight away.

The assessment and stitches can usually be done where you have given birth, but in some cases you might need to be transferred to an obstetric unit if you are not already there.

You will have pain relief to numb the area, and the tear will be stitched. You may need to put your legs into stirrups while the stitching is carried out. The midwife or doctor should check that you are comfortable. If the pain relief doesn't seem to be working properly at any stage, you should let the midwife or doctor know.

After having stitches, you may be offered a small anal suppository (a tablet in the back passage) to help reduce inflammation and pain. You should be given information about painkillers, diet, hygiene and pelvic floor exercises.

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