How Baby Will Spend Her First Hours Of Life

Your baby endures a lot during her first hours of life — from her first bath to her first meal. Be prepared and learn about what you can expect on the day she is born.

Mom with newborn

Birth

Immediately at birth, your doctor or midwife will suction your baby’s mouth (always the mouth first, to prevent baby from gasping and inhaling any mucus) and nose. The change in pressure as Baby enters the world triggers his first breath and his lungs will expand, filling with air and kicking his own circulatory system into action. His first APGAR score will be assigned within one minute of birth, usually by a nurse. If you aren’t practicing delayed cord clamping, the doctor will clamp and cut the umbilical cord, cueing baby that it’s time for him to flex his out-of-the-womb muscles.

Hi, Mom!

Depending on your institution’s policy, your baby will either be placed on your chest for some skin-to-skin action or whisked away to a special warmer for his initial health assessments. His nurses will check him over thoroughly, listening to his lungs, stomach and heart and take his temperature and blood pressure. They’ll also perform a special assessment, based on characteristics like the amount of creases on the soles of his feet and how flexible he is, to give a rough determination of his gestational age. His second APGAR score will be assigned within 10 minutes of life.

First bath

Policies regarding the best time to give a newborn her first bath have been widely debated in medical communities. Some experts argued that the combo of water that is considerably cooler than Baby’s toasty in-womb temperature with the vigorous removal of the protective vernix — the thick, white coating on the skin — can both lead your little one struggling to maintain her body temperature. And when babies are burning up all of their energy trying to regulate their temperatures, their bodies aren’t able to focus on other key life-maintaining processes, like breathing. However, studies have shown that there is no significant difference in babies’ temperatures when they are bathed right after birth. Bottom line? It’s up to you when your baby has his first bath. Enjoy some snuggles right away or request a quick scrub down.

First feed

Babies go through a major crash a few hours after birth — the intense trauma of delivery coupled with a surge of crazy adrenaline hormones leads to a period of alertness, followed by a deep, deep sleep. (If only we could harness that power for later use… ) With the clock ticking on Baby’s sleep schedule, many hospitals have instituted policies that aim to have your baby nursing or bottle-feeding within the first hour of life, to ensure she is awake and alert enough to start the process. Early feeding is especially important for breastfeeding, as it helps your baby learn the process of nursing, gets her digestive system started, and jumpstarts your milk production. Your little one’s first hours of life are jam-packed with action and both of you will have a lot of work to do ahead on the road to recovery. So next up? A nap!

More about newborns

New baby? Keep germs at bay
When the baby blues strike
5 Ways to get comfortable with your new baby

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