After nine months of waiting, you can’t wait to finally hear your baby’s first cry. But what happens just after delivery? Will your baby be handed to you at once? How will you know if she’s healthy? Our expert, Dr R. K. Anand tells us what to expect straight after childbirth.
Just after delivery: Your baby will be wide awake for about 40 minutes after the delivery. This is the time to put your arms around her and experience your first moments of bonding as this will probably help to make her feel secure all her life.
Breast Crawl: Newborns when placed between the mother’s breasts soon after birth have the natural ability to find the mother’s breast on their own to take the first breastfeed. This is called the Breast Crawl. This helps in successful breastfeeding and better bonding between the mother and newborn. It also helps in the early expulsion of placenta and reduced risk of bleeding after delivery.
The Kangaroo Position: The kangaroo position is ideal for the newborn. Here, the mother clasps her baby between her breasts, with the baby’s face just below the mother’s chin; the baby stays quiet, possibly hearing the mother’s heartbeat to which she was accustomed while she was in the womb. If the room temperature is low and the baby is premature, the baby’s head may be covered with a cap. This greatly helps to maintain body temperature.
Apgar Scoring: Doctors and nurses often use the term ‘Apgar scoring’. It meant to assess the condition of your baby in certain respects at 1 minute and 5 minutes after birth. Sixty seconds after the complete birth of the infant, the 5 objective signs given in the table are evaluated, and each is given a score of 0, 1 or 2. A total score of 10 indicates an infant in the best possible condition. Most normal babies score 7 to 10 points. An infant with a score of 0 to 3 requires immediate attention.
|Sign||0 point||1 point||2 point|
|Heart rate||Absent||Less than 100/minute||More than 100/ minute|
|Respiration||Absent||Slow, gasping||Good or crying|
|Muscle tone||Limp||Some flexion of limps||Active and flexed|
|Reflexive response to catheter
placed in the infant’s nose
|None||Minimal grimace||Cough, sneeze or cry|
|Colour||Blue or pale||Body pink, extremities blue||Completely pink|
Normal Reflexes: While examining your newborn, the paediatrician will test for certain reflexes like the grasp reflex, the walking and stepping reflex and the Moro reflex. For the grasp reflex, the doctor places her fingers in the palm of the baby, who is expected to grasp it firmly. To test the walking and stepping reflex, the doctor holds the baby upright so that her feet touch a firm surface. The baby takes a few steps as if she is walking, If the baby’s leg comes in contact with the edge of a table, she steps up onto the table.
A newborn baby can see at birth. She can focus at a distance of about 15 to 20 cm. Thus, she can see her mother’s face while breastfeeding. She can also smell her mother’s milk and hear her voice. She likes body contact, especially with her mother. After being alert for 40 to 60 minutes after birth, the baby may go to sleep for a few minutes or longer.
Examination of the Baby: It is not essential for a pediatrician to be present at every delivery. However, most babies should be checked by a pediatrician within 24 hours after delivery. A pediatrician may be called earlier if any problem is expected.
Immunization at the Hospital: In some hospitals, it is a routine practice to give BCG, one dose of hepatitis B vaccine and Oral Polio vaccine to all newborns before they are discharged from the hospital. The first dose of oral polio vaccine is called the zero dose.
If your baby is not given these vaccines at the hospital, they can be given at a later date.
Hearing Test: Ideally all newborns should be screened for possible hearing loss. If that was not undertaken, hearing should be tested as 4,5,6,8,10,12,15 and 18 years of age. Any child whose speech is delayed must undergo a hearing test as soon as possible.
In the absence of any complications in both you and your baby, both the gynecologist and pediatrician will clear you for discharge. From there, it’s happy homecoming for you as a parent and a little piece of you, your baby!