You have likely spent time researching, reading books, and attending classes on the process of labor. But knowing what to expect for your baby after delivery at a hospital can also help ease tension and create a smooth transition from the hospital to home. For an uncomplicated vaginal birth, you can plan to stay in the hospital for a minimum of 24 hours – however, most people stay for about two days. So what happens directly after you’ve given birth?
What Can New Moms Expect After Giving Birth?
Your new baby is here, now what happens? The first hour after giving birth is usually the most eventful, and depending on the hospital where you deliver and your personal preferences, one of two things could happen – Your baby is cleaned & assessed, or your baby is placed directly on your bare chest for you to hold.
In the case of a healthy birth, whether vaginally or by Cesarean section, it is recommended that your baby be placed on your bare chest as soon as possible. During this time your baby will be naturally awake and alert, which makes it a great time to bond, and giving immediate skin-to-skin contact offers a variety of health benefits. These benefits include temperature regulation for your baby, less crying overall, more stable heartbeat and breathing, increased blood oxygen levels, more successful initiation of breastfeeding, decreased stress, and increased oxytocin levels (which can aid in breastfeeding and bonding).
Cleaning up and Assessing Baby
A few minutes after some skin-to-skin time with your new baby, the medical staff will take your baby to the side for an examination. The baby will be cleaned, weighed, and measured. The nurses will observe your baby’s activity, heart rate, reflexes, appearance, and breathing.
Babies are born with low levels of vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting, so they will also be given a vitamin K shot to protect them against potentially dangerous bleeding. They will receive an antibiotic ointment applied to the eyes to protect them against harmful bacteria they may have been exposed to in the birth canal. At this time we recommend your baby gets their first Hepatitis B vaccine. Your baby will also be footprinted and given identification bands.
Breastfeeding for the first time
After you and your baby are cleaned up, you’ll have a chance to breastfeed your baby for the first time, if you choose. In the first hour after birth, it is unlikely that a lactation consultant will be able to give you direct care because they usually make their rounds at specific times. However, your delivery nurses have the experience to get you situated and help the baby latch on to your breast.
Breastfeeding is a learning process for both and your baby and may, or may not, come as naturally as you hope. Make sure to talk to a lactation consultant while in the hospital or at Tiger Pediatrics. They have a lactation consultant on staff who is happy to meet with you and get their expert advice before going home.
You Did It, Mom!
After all the serious and exciting moments you will have been through, it’s important to rest. Remember that each new step is all part of the learning process, and take it easy on both your mind and your body. Allow your spouse or birth partner to spend time bonding with the baby while you take time to sleep and let your body recover. Your doctor and nurses will be there to help guide you through the process while you enjoy the sweet new baby who has just been brought into the world.