By Mayo Clinic Staff

Labor and delivery

Everyone's labor and delivery are unique. Still, knowing what's typical can help you know what to expect as your due date nears.

Labor and delivery usually follow a pattern. The cervix softens and opens. The fluid-filled sac around the baby, called the amniotic sac, breaks open. Contractions get stronger and closer together.

But sometimes, labor and delivery go another way. For example, how the baby lies in the uterus, called fetal presentation, can affect labor and delivery. You might change your mind about pain medicines. Or you might find that you need a C-section.

No matter what happens during labor and delivery, your health and your baby's health are most important. Discuss what you want during labor and delivery with your healthcare professional.

Talk about pain medicine. Tell your healthcare team how you feel about procedures that may be used during delivery. These include having a surgical cut made in the opening of the vagina, called an episiotomy. Then get ready to welcome your baby into the world.

Postpartum care

You've waited for months. You've been through labor and delivery. Now you're caring for your new baby. But you also need to take care of yourself.

Postpartum care means getting enough rest. It also might involve dealing with vaginal tears or a C-section wound. You may have sore breasts, leaking milk, bloody discharge from the vagina, and hair loss and skin changes.

And postpartum care isn't just about physical health. It also includes your mental well-being. You may have mood swings. You might be cranky, sad and anxious. These feelings are common.

Some people get postpartum depression after giving birth. You might have trouble eating, sleeping, and caring for yourself and your baby. Postpartum depression is a serious condition that needs treatment.

To help you recover after giving birth, ask for help. Share your worries. Talk to your healthcare professional. Let your loved ones know how you feel.

Look to your healthcare professional and your loved ones for support. They can help you get through this time and adjust to life with a newborn.

Oct. 26, 2023