Starting off right
The birth of a baby is one of life's most wondrous moments. Few experiences can compare with this event. Newborn babies have amazing abilities, yet they are completely dependent on others for every aspect--feeding, warmth, and comfort.
Immediately after birth, your baby will be wet from the amniotic fluid and can easily become cold. Drying your newborn and using warm blankets and heat lamps can help prevent heat loss. A knitted hat most likely will be placed on your baby's head. Placing your baby skin-to-skin on your chest or abdomen is one of the best ways to keep a newborn warm. Skin-to-skin contact has also been shown to reduce crying, improve mother-baby interaction, and help women breastfeed successfully.
Healthy babies born in a vaginal delivery are usually able to stay with their mother. In many hospitals, immediate newborn assessments including weight, length, and medications, and even the first bath are performed right beside your bed. As quickly as possible, your new baby is placed in your arms.
In the first hour or two after birth, most babies are in an alert, wide awake phase. This offers a wonderful opportunity for mom and dad to get to know their new baby. Your baby will often turn to the familiar sound of your voice. His or her focus of vision is best at about 8 to 12 inches--about the distance when you are cradling your baby in your arms.
During this first hour or two after birth is the best time to begin breastfeeding. Babies have an innate ability to begin nursing immediately after they are born. Although some medications and anesthesia women may have had during labor and delivery may affect the baby's sucking ability, most healthy babies are able to breastfeed in these first few hours. This initial feeding helps stimulate breast milk production. It also causes contraction of the uterus, which can help prevent excessive bleeding.
Before your baby leaves the delivery area, identification bracelets with identical numbers are placed on your baby and on your wrist. Babies often have two, one on the wrist and one on the ankle. These should be checked each time the baby comes or goes from your room.
One of the newborn first health checks is the Apgar test. This is a scoring system designed by Dr. Virginia Apgar, an anesthesiologist, to evaluate the condition of a newborn at 1minute and 5 minutes after birth.
The mother-baby care team will evaluate the following signs and assign a point value:
|A||Activity; muscle tone|
|G||Grimace; reflex rritability|
|A||Appearance; skin color|
A score of 7 to 10 is considered normal. A score of 4 to 6 may indicate that the baby needs some resuscitation measures (oxygen) and careful monitoring. A score of 3 or below indicates that the baby requires immediate resuscitation and lifesaving techniques.
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