Experiencing uncontrollable shaking or shivering after delivering a baby occurs frequently. This symptom can happen after either a vaginal delivery—with or without an epidural—-or a Cesarean section, according to Dr. Megan Carreno, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. While uncomfortable for the mother, there appears to be no risk from the condition, she says.
There are three stages of childbirth, according to the American Pregnancy Association or APA. The first stage begins with the onset of true labor and lasts until the cervix is completely dilated to 10 centimeters. The second stage lasts through the delivery of the baby, and the third stage is delivery of the placenta. It is after the final stage that a woman might experience uncontrollable shaking or shivering, according to websites JustTheFactsBaby and GivingBirthNaturally.
The severity of the condition depends on the woman, Carreno says, and the shivering can last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes. Along with shivering and feelings of cold, most women feel a mixture of symptoms after a delivery. These can include exhaustion, soreness, cramping and pain.
Hormones, including the adrenal hormones, cause shakiness after delivery. Carreno says, "The physiology of the woman's bodies changes drastically after childbirth, including the hormones and fluid shifts within the body." According to the site GivingBirthNaturally, "This is just the body's normal reaction to the hormonal changes that take place after birth."
IV fluids also can cause shivering. According to the website JustTheFactsBaby, "The IV fluids are colder than body temperature, so they can make you feel cold." The site also says, "Small pieces of amniotic fluid can seep into the blood stream during surgery and cause shivering or shaking."
Give a new mother reassurance and warmth if she experiences shivering or shaking. Carreno says, "This is a normal part of giving birth, and keeping warm is important," she adds. You can use warm blankets to help bring the new mom's body temperature back to normal. Some women feel are hesitant to hold their newborn after experiencing what feels like violent shaking in some cases. "That is up to the individual mother," Carreno says. "However, skin-to-skin (touch by) just having the baby rest on the chest while laying down and maybe having someone stand nearby can help those mothers who don't feel like holding the infant in their arms."
- Megan Carreno; OB/GYN; Sanford Health; Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
- American Pregnancy Association: the Stages of Childbirth
- JustTheFactsBaby.com: Giving Birth by Cesarean Section
- GivingBirthNaturally.com: Stage III