The health of your baby
Caring for your baby at birth, your health.
Key points: Your baby’s medical professionals check it immediately after birth to make sure it is healthy and adapting to life outside the womb.
- They check muscle tone, heart rate, skin color, reflexes and breathing. Most babies are healthy and do not need special medical attention.
- Holding your baby skin to skin helps maintain your body temperature and allows them to bond. You can also start breastfeeding.
- Your baby is given injections and eye drops to help protect him from health conditions that can harm newborns.
- Your baby is screened for newborns to check for serious but unusual conditions the baby may have at birth.
What kind of medical care is given to your baby as soon as it is born?
In the first few minutes after your baby is born, medical professionals examine you to make sure you are healthy and stable. The professionals:
They keep your baby’s body temperature. After birth, your baby can get cold easily. At birth, the baby is wet by the amniotic fluid in the womb. A professional dries it to help you not feel cold. Your baby may be covered with sebaceous gums. It is a white substance, with cheese-like texture and waterproof that protects the skin of your baby in the womb. Leaving sebaceous grease on baby’s skin can help maintain body temperature and avoid problems such as weight loss and jaundice. Jaundice is when the baby’s eyes and skin look yellowish. The cause is when the liver is not fully developed or does not work well. You may not have your baby bathed for several hours to help protect the sebaceous oil on your skin.
They help your baby breathe. Your healthcare provider clears the mucus from your baby’s nose and mouth to breathe for the first time. You may rub your back to help him breathe more deeply. Crying at birth is normal and helps your baby eliminate excess fluid that may still be in the lungs, nose or mouth. However, not all babies cry after birth. Your baby may breathe gently the first few times. Some babies, such as premature babies (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and babies born by caesarean section may have trouble breathing after giving birth and need extra help from their medical professionals. Caesarean section is an operation in which your baby is born through a cut that the doctor makes to you in the abdomen and uterus.
They clamp and cut the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord connected your baby to the placenta in the womb. He transported food and oxygen from the placenta to your baby. Now that your baby was born, you no longer need the umbilical cord. Your baby’s professional or your delivery partner can pinch and cut the cord. Most professionals wait at least 30 to 60 seconds after birth to let the blood from the placenta flow to your baby before pinching the cord. This is known as the delayed clamping of the umbilical cord.
When can you hold your baby for the first time?
Once professionals make sure your baby is healthy, you can hold it. Holding your baby skin to skin (also called kangaroo) keeps your body temperature and helps you prepare for breastfeeding. It is also a special time to establish an emotional bond with your baby.
If you had a vaginal delivery, your provider places your baby skin to skin on your bare chest or abdomen and covers them both with a blanket. If you had a cesarean section and you were awake during the operation, you may be able to hold your baby skin to skin immediately. After caesarean section, some babies have to spend time in the nursery. Your baby may spend a few hours in an incubator. The incubator is a transparent plastic bed or crib that maintains your baby’s body heat. If you had general anesthesia for the cesarean section, you will not wake up until a few hours after the operation. When you wake up and if you feel well, you can hold and breastfeed your baby. Anesthesia is a medication that helps reduce or prevent pain.
Most women can start breastfeeding within one hour of giving birth. The nurse or lactation consultant can help you get started. The lactation consultant is the person with special training to help women who breastfeed.
While your baby is skin to skin on his chest, professionals:
- They measure their baby and they take the temperature. Your baby’s professional measures the weight, height and size of the head to verify that it is within the healthy range for your age. They also take the temperature.
- Your baby is given an injection of Vitamin K. During the first few days after delivery, newborns can not make their own vitamin K, which is needed to clot the blood. Vitamin K injection protects your baby against a serious and unusual bleeding problem called hemorrhagic disease of the newborn.
- They treat your baby’s eyes with ophthalmic drops. Your baby gets drops (eye drops) or antibiotic ointment. These protect the baby’s eyes from infections that can be spread during vaginal delivery. Your baby does not need the drops right away, so you can ask them to give them later.
- Your baby is given medical bracelets and foot impressions are taken. Usually, they attach two identity bracelets to the baby (one for the ankle and the other for the wrist). You are also given a bracelet similar to your baby’s. The impressions of your baby’s foot are part of your first medical history.