As soon as the baby is born, the doctor will hand the baby to you. Hold the naked baby against your chest for direct skin-to-skin contact. Depending upon the temperature in the delivery room, both of you may be covered with a light sheet, with or without a blanket. Most babies, especially those whose mothers have not been sedated, are alert for about 40 minutes to an hour after delivery. Take advantage of this period. Try to see if she might be interested in breastfeeding right away. You will find that some babies turn their heads to one side and start looking for the nipple. Some succeed in getting hold of the nipple and start suckling. You will be thrilled to see this happening. If she does not attempt this on her own, you can gently push her towards one breast and see if she wants to suckle. Do not force her if she is not interested.
This early contact with your baby is important for bonding with her and for giving her the valuable colostrum. The mother first produces colostrum, a rich thick yellowish liquid which contains more protein, salt and anti-bodies than later breast milk and is very important for the baby as it helps build her immunity.
Do not let anyone squeeze the breast for milk. Simply let the baby be put to the breast when hungry. Elderly relatives sometimes feel that colostrum is harmful to newborn. Explain to them that colostrum is very essential for the baby and, through secreted in small amounts, is enough to meet all the needs of your baby. It is rich in Vitamins A, K and zinc. It contains large amounts of antibodies and other factors that protect the child against life threatening infections. It also has an immunoglobulin that coats the lining of the baby’s immature intestine and prevents large protein molecules from entering the newborn’s blood system. This reduces the risk of her getting allergic diseases like asthma and eczema later in life.
It has been observed that the suckling reflex of a newborn is at its height 20 to 30 minutes after birth. If the infant is not fed at this time, the reflex diminishes rapidly to reappear adequately 40 hours later. It may be further delayed if the mother is over doped. On the other hand, if the baby is put to the breast properly, early weight loss is minimized, which is otherwise so common in newborn babies.
Nursing soon after delivery also has a laxative effect on the meconium. The early evacuation of meconium tends to decrease the reabsorption of bilirubin, the yellow pigment responsible for jaundice. This pigment is liberated by the breakdown of cast off red blood cells present in the intestines. Decreased reabsorption of bilirubin reduces the appearance of jaundice in newborn babies. Even if the jaundice does appear, effective evacuation of meconium reduces its severity.
After a normal delivery, you and your baby will be taken to your room if you are not heavily sedated, keep your baby next to you in your bed. You may like to cuddle her if she is still wake. In private hospitals, a baby cot is provided next to your bed. You can decide if you want to keep the baby all the time in your bed or partly in the cot and in the bed according to your convenience.
Source: Book - Guide to Child Care by Dr R K Anand
To consult Dr R K Anand in person, click here
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