Care of the Baby in the Delivery Room
Caring for a baby in the delivery room:
Providing warmth for the newborn:
|A newborn baby is wet from the amniotic fluid and can easily become cold. Drying the baby and using warm blankets and heat lamps can help prevent heat loss. Often a knitted hat is placed on the baby's head. Placing a baby skin-to-skin on the mother's chest or abdomen also helps to keep the baby warm.|
Immediate care for the newborn:
|Health assessments of the new baby begin immediately. One of the first checks is the Apgar test. The Apgar test is a scoring system designed by Dr. Virginia Apgar, an anesthesiologist, to evaluate the condition of the newborn at one minute and five minutes after birth. The physician and nurses will evaluate the following signs and assign a point value: |
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.
Physical examination of the newborn in the delivery room:
|A brief, physical examination is performed to check for obvious signs that the baby is healthy. Other necessary procedures will be done over the next few minutes and hours. These may be done in the delivery room or in the nursery, depending on the hospital policy and the condition of the baby. Some of these procedures include the following: |
Before a baby leaves the delivery area, identification bracelets with identical numbers are placed on the baby, mother, and one other person who is usually the father or other family member. Babies often have two, on the wrist and ankle. These should be checked each time the baby comes or goes from your room.
Care for the newborn after a vaginal delivery:
|Healthy babies born in a vaginal delivery are usually able to stay with the mother. In many hospitals, immediate newborn assessments including weight, length, and medications, and even the first bath are performed right in the mother's room. As quickly as possible, a new baby is placed in the mother's arms. |
In the first hour or two after birth, most babies are in an alert, wide awake phase. This offers a wonderful opportunity for parents to get to know their new baby. A baby will often turn to the familiar sound of the mother's voice. A baby's focus of vision is best at about 8 to 12 inches - just the distance from the baby cradled in a mother's arms to her face.
During this first hour or two after birth is also the best time to begin breastfeeding. Babies have an innate ability to begin nursing immediately after they are born. Although some medications and anesthesia given to the mother 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 mother's uterus which can help prevent excessive bleeding.
Care for the newborn after a cesarean delivery:
|If your baby is born by a cesarean delivery, chances are good that you can be awake for the surgery. Only in rare situations will a mother require general anesthesia for delivery. This means she is not conscious for the birth. Most cesarean deliveries today are done with a regional anesthesia such as an epidural or spinal. With this type of anesthesia, only part of the body is numbed for surgery. The mother is awake and able to hear and see her baby as soon as he or she is born. |
Babies born by cesarean are usually checked by a nursery nurse or pediatrician right after delivery. This is often done right near you in the operating room. Because babies born by cesarean may have difficulty clearing some of the lung fluid and mucus, extra suctioning of the nose, mouth, and throat are often needed. Occasionally, deeper suctioning in the windpipe is required.
Once a baby is checked over, a nurse will wrap the baby warmly and bring the baby to you to see and touch. Many hospitals require babies born by cesarean to be watched in the nursery for a short time. All the usual procedures such as weighing and medications are performed there. Usually, your baby can be brought to you while you are in the recovery area after surgery.
Many mothers think that they will not be able to breastfeed after a cesarean. This is not true. Breastfeeding can begin in the first hours right in the recovery room, just as with a vaginal delivery.
Plan to have someone stay with you during your hospital stay after a cesarean delivery. You will have quite a bit of pain in the first few days and will need help with the baby.
When a baby has difficulty after birth:
All the baby's body systems must work together in a new way after birth. Sometimes, a baby has difficulty making the transition. Health assessments, including the Apgar test performed right after birth, can help determine if a baby is doing well or having problems.