Every mother anticipates this day for months: At last you get to meet your new baby. But like many new parents, you might not have a clear idea of what that meeting will be like, and what will happen next.
What new born babies look like
Although mother may have visions of a robust bouncing baby, reality may not live up to that image. It is common that new born babies’ heads are slightly pointed as a result of passing through the birth canal. This is only temporary – the head will take on a rounded appearance within a few days. It may surprise the mother that a new born baby’s head is so big compared to the rest of his/her body.
Rashes, blotches, or tiny white spots also are common appearances in new born babies. These generally clear up over the first few days or weeks after birth.
Remember that your baby’s appearance will change dramatically over the next weeks as he/she grows. The limbs will extend, the skin tone will probably change, and the blotches will disappear.
What happens to my baby Immediately after birth?
A newborn doesn’t have the ability to control his/her body temperature well, so it is very important that you keep him/her warm and dry. Cover him/her with a warm towel or blanket and place a soft cap on his head to keep your baby warm.
Skin-to-skin contact will help keep your baby warm and jumpstart your mummy and baby bonding.
After your baby’s temperature has remained stable for at least a few hours, a nurse will give him/her a sponge bath and wash his/her hair if needed. Baths usually take place in the nursery, where the baby is put under radiant heat to warm up afterwards, but you can ask for him/her to be bathed in your room and then placed in contact with you and covered with a blanket to keep him/her warm.
Some mothers prefer to have their babies spend some time in the nursery so they can rest. Others don’t want to be separated at all from their new born babies. Keep in mind that if you are breastfeeding, it makes sense to keep your baby in the same room as yours to facilitate feeding him/her.
Bonding with your baby
Spending time with your baby in his/her first hours of life is very special. Although you might be tired, the newborn could be quite alert after birth. Cuddle your baby skin-to-skin, so he/she gets to know your voice and study your face. Your newborn can see up to about two feet away. You may notice that your baby throws his/her arms out if someone turns on a light or makes a sudden noise. This is called the startle response. Babies also are born with grasp and sucking reflexes. Put a clean finger in your baby’s palm and watch how he/her will squeeze it. Feed your baby when he/she shows signs of hunger.
Newborn tests and medical care
Immediately after birth, your baby will be evaluated through an Apgar score to determine his state of health. This routine test measures a baby’s responsiveness and vital signs: heart rate, breathing, colour, activity and muscle tone.
New born babies go through a few other quick procedures, which may include
Other tests vary from one hospital to another. Your newborn may be given a blood test to check blood sugar levels. If the level is too low or shall other problems be discovered, the baby may require immediate medical attention.
When can I start breastfeeding?
Babies tend to be very alert right after birth, so that’s a good time to begin breastfeeding. In fact, the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommends that healthy full-term infants “be placed and remain in direct skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately after delivery until the first feeding is accomplished.”
There’s no need to panic if the newborn seems to have trouble finding or staying on your nipple right after birth– this can take time and you will have the help of your medical personnel. Most babies will eventually begin to nurse within the first hour or so.
Some babies (especially premature and smaller babies) have a hard time latching on or getting enough suction to nurse from breast. A nurse or a breastfeeding counsellor can help you and your baby overcome any hurdles. Even if breastfeeding is going smoothly from the start, it’s still helpful for you to learn as much about it as you can from a breastfeeding specialist.
Initially, you will probably be feeding the baby about every 2 to 3 hours around the clock. If you choose to bottle-feed your baby, you can usually begin within the first few hours after birth.
Feelings and emotions
Having a baby is a major, life-changing experience. Don’t be surprised to find that you are going through a broad range of emotions. You may experience everything from elation to concern to anxiety to unrestrained joy. And feelings may change suddenly and unpredictably. In addition, you have just been throughphysical and emotional strain. There is a good chance you’ll be exhausted, and both you and your spouse may start feeling the effects of sleep deprivation.
Every parent reacts differently. Some mothers “forget” the difficulties of labor as soon as they catch a glimpse of their newborn. Some feel high levels of energy driven by the excitement of finally having their baby. Others may feel sad and may experience baby blues or the more serious postpartum depression.
A physician, nurse, or counsellor can help parents understand their emotions after the baby arrives.
Friends and family
Although you may feel the urge to share the good news with the world, it is wise to keep the first few days simple. Make calls to close friends and family members, and ask them to pass the news along to other friends and relatives.
It is fine to have loved ones meet the baby the first day. Grandparents or siblings can meet the newest family member and start to bond right away. Parents and baby need plenty of rest and quiet bonding time.
It’s also wise to limit visitors in the first few weeks because of the possibility of exposing your baby to infection. Whenever visitors come, make sure they aren’t sick, and ask them to wash their hands before touching the baby.
When your baby is born, you will enter an entirely new phase of life. Take the time during your first few days to savour this new beginning and allow yourself to rest and recuperate.