woman in hospital bed with newborn

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Baby's first minutes

After your final push, Baby is welcomed into the world with a standard procedure to make sure she is healthy. You might be in a daze or flat-out exhausted when this happens, so we’ll give you the rundown on her first minutes outside of the womb:

  • First breath: When Baby cries for the first time, she is also taking in her first breath. A doctor or nurse will suction around the mouth and nose so that there is no respiratory obstruction.
  • Skin-to-skin contact: After birth, Baby will be placed on your body and covered with a blanket to get warm and start bonding! These sweet snuggles will help your little one regulate her body temperature and promote breastfeeding success. However, if she is born prematurely or in respiratory distress, she will be rushed to the NICU to be examined further.
  • Physical evaluation: One minute and five minutes after birth, a nurse will give Baby an Apgar score, which assesses activity, appearance, reflexes, respiration, and circulation. If there are no red flags, she will soon also be weighed and measured.
  • Cutting the cord: Shortly after birth, it's time to cut the umbilical cord. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends delaying cord-clamping for at least 30 to 60 seconds after birth, and some families prefer to wait even longer - until after the cord has stopped pulsing - which is sometimes as much as three minutes. If that's something you're interested in, it can be helpful to talk to your healthcare provider about it ahead of time. Cord cutting is often done by the baby’s parent (if that's something you're interested in) once the healthcare provider has clamped it in two places. And cord blood may be taken if your healthcare provider needs it for further testing or if you have chosen to donate it to a blood bank.
  • Vitamin K shot and antibiotics: An injection of vitamin K assists with blood clotting to prevent excessive bleeding, especially in the brain, and a nurse will also likely give Baby antibiotic eye drops to prevent eye infection. These steps do not need to happen immediately after birth, and they can take place after Baby has been snuggling with you for some time. 
  • Baby’s first outfit: After the initial testing, she will get a diaper, beanie, and blanket - she’s ready to be held, breastfeed, and loved!

Read more
  • "Apgar score." MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 5/3/2016. Web.
  • "What happens straight after birth." NHSDirect Wales. NHSDirect Wales, n.d. Web.
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