Immediate Care of You and your Baby after Birth
Skin to skin contact
Immediately after birth, your baby will be dried and placed on your chest and tummy in direct contact with your skin and you will both be covered with a blanket.
Skin to skin contact allows you to look closely at your baby and to touch them for the first time. Skin to skin contact also comforts your baby as they stay close to you. We recommend you put a hat on your baby’s head to help them keep warm.
At the Rotunda, we aim to allow uninterrupted skin to skin contact for at least 60 minutes. If you are going to fall asleep during skin to skin contact or anytime your baby is lying prone (on their tummy) make sure there is somebody close by to check on your baby.
The timing of the first breastfeed depends on when your baby is ready to feed and it will usually start within 30 minutes of the birth. Your midwife will help you to latch your baby onto your breast and your baby can enjoy their first feed.
Early feeding has been shown to help with the successful establishment of breastfeeding. These first precious moments are a very special time and allow you and your partner to welcome your new baby and to decide whom they look like!
Although the majority of babies cry at birth, some babies will need a little help to take their first breath. If the midwife or doctor has any concerns about the baby, a paediatrician will attend the birth. Babies who need help to breathe in the first few minutes usually recover quickly and can be placed skin-to-skin once they are crying and breathing themselves.
Occasionally, babies may need ongoing care and observation by the midwife and paediatrician. In this case, your baby will remain under the radiant warmer in the birth room. Should your baby need to be admitted to the neonatal unit, the paediatrician will give you a detailed explanation of the reasons.
Identification and Security
Identification bands will be put on your baby’s wrist and ankle. These bands will contain your details and those of your baby, including its sex. The details on the band will be checked with you before the bands are put on. It is important that the identification bands stay on your baby for as long as you are both in hospital. The midwife will also place a security tag on your baby’s ankle. The baby tag helps us to keep your baby safe while in hospital. If you notice that either the identity band or the security tag fall off your baby, please inform a member of staff immediately, so that the band or tag can be replaced.
The first question parents ask once the baby’s sex has been discovered is “what’s the weight”? The midwife will weigh your baby before transfer to the postnatal ward. The midwife will also carry out a physical examination of your baby including counting fingers and toes. This first physical examination will confirm that your baby appears to be healthy and well. The baby’s temperature will also be checked.
The Rotunda Hospital recommends that all newborn babies receive an injection of vitamin K following birth. Your midwife will discuss this with you during labour. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and newborn babies don’t have any stores of the vitamin in their bodies. Babies make vitamin K as they start feeding and their gut matures over the first 3 – 6 months. The injection offers protection until your baby produces sufficient amounts of vitamin K.
Immediate care of you after Birth
Your beautiful newborn baby will seem to have the attention of everyone in the room, but you are also very important! Following the birth, the midwife or doctor will examine your vaginal area to see if you need any stitches. If you do, your perineum will be numbed with local anaesthetic (unless you have an epidural) and the stitches will be put in. Usually, one continuous stitch is used to repair the skin edges, which is more comfortable. The stitches dissolve over the next six weeks and do not need to be removed.
The midwife will also check your blood loss and will feel your tummy to make sure that your womb stays contracted. The midwife will check your temperature and blood pressure and will make sure you are comfortable and pain free.
Once you have finished feeding your baby, you will be offered a refreshing wash and you can change into some fresh nightclothes. If you’ve had an epidural, the midwife will remove the epidural tube from your back. The drip in your arm will be left in place until you have passed urine.
You can try to pass urine before you are transferred to the postnatal ward. If you have a catheter in place, this will be removed.
You and your partner will then be given tea and toast, before you and your baby are transferred to the postnatal ward, which is usually within two hours of birth. Skin to skin contact can continue as you are transferred. The midwife will come with you to the ward, introduce you to the ward staff and give them a summary of your labour and birth details. The identification of your baby will be checked with you, your partner and the ward midwife.