You’ve waited so long for this day to come, but in a flash, your baby’s birth is done and dusted. So what happens now? Which health checks and screens can you expect? How long should you wait before starting to breastfeed? Here’s a new mom’s guide to what happens after birth
Understanding what happens after birth
Your baby right after birth
Because your newborn cannot control his own body temperature, it’s essential that they’re kept warm and dry after birth. If you had a vaginal delivery and you and your baby are healthy, your baby should be placed directly onto your chest. Your baby will be covered with a towel or a blanket and given a cap to keep his little head warm. The skin-to-skin contact helps keep your baby warm and also starts the bonding process between the two of you.
After about two minutes, the doctor will clamp the umbilical cord in two places and then cut it between the two clamps. Your doctor will collect some blood from the cord just to check your baby’s blood type and perhaps use it for a few other tests if needed. At between one and five minutes after birth, your doctor will perform your baby’s Apgar assessment. This evaluates your baby’s heart rate breathing, muscle tone, reflex response, and colour. All of this can be done while your baby is resting on your belly if your baby is in good health.
Most babies are very alert right after birth, making it the ideal time to start breastfeeding if both of you are willing. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, healthy, full-term infants should be placed skin-to-skin with their mother’s straight after birth and should remain there until the first feeding is done. Don’t stress if your baby doesn’t seem to get the idea at first. Most babies, when given the opportunity, will eventually begin to nurse within an hour or so after birth.
If you had a C-section, your baby will be handed to a nurse straight after birth after. The nurse then ensures that he or she is placed in a warmer. They’ll dry your baby off, suction their nasal passages and mouth, have an Apgar assessment done, and receive any other attention they might need. In most cases, your baby will be swaddled and given to your partner, who will be sitting at your head. As soon as you head to the recovery room, your baby will be sent with you. This makes for an ideal opportunity to start nursing.
What tests will my baby have after birth?
At 48 hours after birth, your baby will have blood tests done for hypothyroidism, phenylketonuria, and other disorders. Doctors will prick his or her heel to collect a blood sample. A lot of doctors perform routine hearing tests on newborn babies as well.
Before being discharged from the hospital, your baby gets his or her first shot of the hepatitis B vaccine. If you are a carrier of hepatitis B, your baby will be vaccinated within 12 hours of birth.