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What to expect straight after birth

You’re guide on what happens to you and your baby during the first hour after birth

The first hour after birth

Here's what you can expect for you and baby straight after giving birth

Mum just after giving birth

Immediately after delivery 

Once you’re baby is born and you've both been checked over, it’s important to bond straight away with skin-to-skin contact. If you’ve had a vaginal delivery that has gone smoothly, your baby will be placed directly onto your abdomen after birth and dried off there before being covered with a warm blanket and cap to keep their head warm. Newborns aren’t able to adjust their body temperature very well, so this step of keeping them warm is important so they don’t lose too much heat and have to expend energy to keep themselves warm. Don’t worry about bonding if you’re unable to hold your baby straight after delivery for medical reasons, you’ll have plenty of time to do this once they’ve been stabilised.

As you bond with your baby you’ll also be monitored to ensure they are doing well. At one and five minutes after your baby is born your medical practitioner will evaluate heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflex response and colour which is called an Apgar assessment. This test is to evaluate how well your baby has coped during birth and then how well they are adjusting to their new environment. You’ll not have to separate from your baby during these assessments if your baby is doing well. 

Your nurse will also put an ID band on you, your baby, and your partner immediately after delivery. They’ll also take a footprint of your baby. You can ask for two so the hospital can keep one and the other as a keepsake for you.

As well as bonding, you will need to have your umbilical cord clamped and cut by either your medical practitioner or partner if they want to! Having done this a tube of blood will be collected to check your baby’s blood type and for other tests if necessary. 

Your nurse will also put an antibiotic ointment or drops in your baby’s eyes soon after birth to prevent eye infections which could cause blindness. As well as this your baby will be weighed and given an injection of vitamin K to help her blood cot. 

Breastfeeding after birth 

It’s normal for a baby to start breastfeeding from mum straight after birth if you’re both feeling up to it. Sometimes your newborn baby might find it difficult to find and stay on your nipple after birth and it may take a while for them to nurse properly, although it will eventually happen within the first hour depending on how things go. 

It can be quite difficult at the start so don’t feel shy if you can’t get the hang of it immediately, your nurse will be there to help you get started. 

What if there are post-birth complications?

It may be that your baby has problems after birth and will require a higher level of observation or critical support. If this is the case, your baby will be dried off and the cord cut before being taken to a radiant warmer in your birthing room. This will keep your baby warm whilst they do further checks. If there are critical problems your baby will be taken to an intensive care nursery. 

What if I have had a c-section? 

If you’ve had a c-section, your baby will be taken to the radiant warmer and be dried off, her mouth and nasal passages will be suctioned and the Apgar assessment will be done. If your baby is doing well they will usually swaddle them in a warm blanket and hand them to your partner who can hold them whilst you’re still in the operating room. 

After your c-section your baby will be taken to the recovery room with you, and if you’re feeling up to it you’ll be able to breastfeed.

What to expect straight after birth