What Happens After Your Baby Is Born?
Find out about the health checks and procedures that happen immediately after your baby’s birth. Here’s what happens after your baby is born:
After birth, the umbilical cord, which acted as your baby’s lifeline during pregnancy, will be clamped and cut. The optimum time for cord clamping is three minutes. The midwife will tell you how to care for the cord stump before you leave the hospital.
Your baby will be given an identity wrist and ankle band, detailing the date and time of the birth; the hospital number; baby’s sex; and mother’s name. All the details will be crosschecked with you.
All babies will also get an alarm-based security tag, which is computerised to match their specific hospital number. This is placed on your baby’s leg along with their identity bracelet.
If you and your baby are well after the birth, your baby will be placed skin-to-skin (baby is placed under your t-shirt/nightdress for comfort, warmth, security and to commence breastfeeding). The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 60 minutes of skin-to-skin contact to promote breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin contact also helps to promote bonding, and encourages normal infant breathing and heart rate patterns.
After you have had some time to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby, which is the start of the bonding process, they will be weighed, and given a basic examination by the midwife.
They will check their fingers, toes, the fontanelles (the soft spots on your baby’s skull), the spine, and that the palmer creases, which are two creases that run across the palms of the hand, are there.
Many babies are a little ‘blue’ when they are born, so don’t get a fright; it can take a minute or two for them to turn ‘pink’.
Also many babies have a conical shaped head when born. This occurs as they navigate their way out of the birth canal and this usually settles in a day or two. Your baby’s hands and feet can be slightly pale for up to 24 hours, again this is normal, their circulation will improve in a few days.
The APGAR test will also be carried out on your baby.
This is a way of checking baby’s condition and is done one minute after birth and again five minutes after birth. Heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin colour are all assessed. A healthy baby will have a score of seven or higher. A baby with a lower score may need time to recover from the birth. Babies with very low scores will need medical attention. A paediatrician/neonatologist will carry out a complete check of your baby within a day or two.
If it was an instrumental birth or if baby was in distress during the first or second stage of labour, a paediatrican will be present. They will do a comprehensive check on your baby, looking at head and length measurements.
If a baby needs bloods, they will be brought to the neonatal unit for a septic work-up. This entails the baby going to the intensive care nursery soon after birth, having swab tests, urine samples, blood taken and sometimes a spinal tap to check for infection. They will also give your baby antibiotics intravenously in the nursery for 48 hours, until all the tests come back clear.
Skin-to-skin contact is encouraged for the first 60 minutes of a newborn’s life, and the first feed is also encouraged during this time. This causes a reflex that helps the uterus contract, reducing bleeding.
However, while some babies need an early feed and can latch on really well, others may be too sleepy to be interested in feeding. Your midwife will help you assess the situation.
The midwife will also review your condition. Your vagina will be checked for tears and sutured after delivery of the placenta.
The midwife will also check that your blood loss is not too heavy and that any problems such as a rise in your blood pressure, are quickly identified.
Look after yourself
- Ensure you drink plenty of water and your diet is high in fibre (such as bran, oranges and brown bread) to prevent constipation.
- If you breastfeed, persist with it; you are giving your baby the best start. The midwives will assist you as much as you need.
- Have two to three showers every day to help any tears/episiotomy heal.
- Rest when you can and aim to rest/sleep when your baby is asleep.
- You may require pain killers for a few days following birth. Take them if you need them as you need to feel well to be able to get up and about to care for your baby.
- Bring in some snacks – although your nutritional needs will be met in hospital a small personal supply of food such as banana and cream crackers can be a good idea.
Share something significant of your birth story in the comments below.