The moments after your baby is born can be quite special. You finally get to meet the little person you’ve been carrying in your body for so many months. We know you’ll be eager to cuddle your new arrival, introduce baby to family members and take lots of photos.
First, though, we’ll need to assess your newborn to be sure he or she is healthy and safe. At Baptist Health, our medical professionals include nurses specially trained in newborn care. These care teams have the expertise needed to compassionately care for both you and your newborn right after birth. And if your baby faces any medical issues, our team is ready to take immediate action. If necessary, we can transfer babies to one of our neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) for specialized care.
Caring for Your Baby Right After Birth
One of our very first goals is to help you and your baby make skin-to-skin contact (a practice called kangaroo care) as soon as possible after delivery. We often place your baby in your arms even before we cut the umbilical cord.
Kangaroo care is wonderfully reassuring for parents — dads included. It’s also extremely healthy for your newborn and can help parents and baby bond more easily.
Umbilical cord care
After we deliver your baby, we’ll clamp and cut the umbilical cord that connected him or her to your placenta. Don’t worry: The umbilical cord doesn’t have any nerves, so cutting it doesn’t hurt baby a bit. We’ll also show you how to care for your baby’s soon-to-be-bellybutton at home.
Feeding baby for the first time
You can feed your baby almost immediately after delivery if you like. Even moms who’ve undergone a Cesarean section (C-section) can usually breastfeed quickly after surgery.
Our lactation consultants will help you start breastfeeding or assist you with bottle-feeding and milk-reduction aides. We’re here to support whichever feeding option you choose. Learn about the benefits of breastfeeding in this overview of breastfeeding.
Keeping your newborn safe
We understand how nervous you may be about ensuring that your baby is safe and secure. For this reason, we issue matching wristbands to you, your partner and your baby. Anytime your baby leaves or returns to your room, we’ll check to ensure that your wristbands match. If your baby leaves the floor on which the Mother & Baby unit is located, the baby’s security bracelet will trigger an alarm.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Research shows there are many benefits of breastfeeding — for both moms and babies. Breastfeeding offers:
- Health protections for baby: Overall, babies who breastfeed tend to get less sick, less often. That’s because the antibodies in your milk help protect your baby against a wide variety of ailments — from painful ear infections and colds to allergies. Breastfed babies also see a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes because of breast milk’s high levels of insulin.
- Health benefits for mom: Breastfeeding moms see a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancers as well as type 2 diabetes. It also reduces the risk of common postpartum health concerns, such as bleeding and postpartum depression.
- Emotional bonding: Breastfeeding promotes a deep emotional connection between mom and baby. When you’re cuddling kangaroo style (skin-to-skin), your baby feels a sense of closeness and security from your scent and breathing pattern.
- Convenience: You may find breastfeeding challenging in the early days and weeks. But once you get into a good rhythm, you’ll probably welcome the convenience it offers. Late-night feedings require no bottles to warm and feeding baby on the go can be a breeze.
- Cost savings: An obvious benefit many breastfeeding moms enjoy: Your milk is free to you.
Rest assured, Baptist Health also supports those moms for whom formula-feeding is the chosen option.
Common Newborn Health Tests and Procedures
We know you want to hold your baby, uninterrupted, as soon as possible. We make a point to let you and your baby snuggle for about an hour after delivery. Next, we’ll do a few health tests. These examinations are quick and won’t hurt your baby. They help us ensure that your baby is transitioning well to life outside your body. Typical tests and procedures include:
- Measurement check: We measure your baby’s head-to-foot length and head circumference. We also weigh him or her. These figures can give us a quick, overall snapshot of your baby’s health. Learn more about newborn measurements.
- Physical examination: We check that your baby’s temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and other vital signs are all within normal range. We also examine your baby’s major body parts and general appearance. Learn more about physical exams of newborns.
- Gestational age assessment: We may do this test to see how long baby actually developed in your uterus before birth — that’s your baby’s gestational age. This test is helpful if your baby is smaller or larger than we expected. It helps us double-check your baby’s physical development and determine whether he or she needs any extra care. Learn more about gestational age assessments.
- Health procedures: Most normal babies need a few simple medical interventions after birth, including:
- CCHD test: The Critical Congenital Heart Disease test is required by the state to screen for potentially life-threatening heart defects in newborns.
- Vitamin K injection: Newborns typically have low levels of vitamin K in their bodies and need more to help their blood clot normally.
- Eye medicine: We insert antibiotic eye drops or ointments in newborn babies’ eyes. This medicine helps kill bacteria that may have built up in their eyes during delivery.
- Vaccine shot: We can give your baby the first of three doses of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine right after birth. Otherwise, you can choose to have your pediatrician administer this shot during your baby’s first visit.
- Hearing test: We may do a painless test of your baby’s hearing sometime before he or she leaves the hospital. Learn more about hearing screening tests for newborns.
If Your Baby Has Problems at Birth
Most parents never expect to have a sick newborn. If this happens, we understand how stressful it is to hear that your baby is struggling. However, if a medical problem arises, you and your baby are in the best possible place: a Baptist Health hospital with significant experience caring for newborns, both sick and healthy.
Intensive medical care for sick newborns
We provide expert care for babies with health challenges. The specialized area of our hospital that cares for babies who need significant medical attention is called the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Newborn health conditions that may require special care
Our NICU teams regularly treat a number of newborn health conditions, including:
- Low birth weight: This is defined as a newborn weight less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces.
- Intrauterine growth retardation: The unborn baby is smaller than average because it’s not growing at the expected rate inside the womb.
- Minor congenital malformations (birth defects)
- Neonatal abstinence syndrome: This is a group of symptoms related to an unborn baby being exposed to drugs before birth.
- Prematurity: When a baby is born at less than 37 weeks of pregnancy, he or she is considered premature.
- Respiratory (breathing) difficulties: Most newborns with RDS need extra help to breathe properly in the first few days — sometimes weeks — of life.
- Sepsis: This is an infection in baby’s bloodstream.
Other conditions requiring additional care
- Cerebral palsy: This neurological condition affects communication between a baby’s brain and muscles. Learn more about cerebral palsy.
- Cleft lip/cleft palate: Splits or openings in a baby’s upper lip or roof of their mouth can develop during pregnancy. Get details on newborns with cleft lip/cleft palate.
- Cystic fibrosis: This inherited disease causes a baby’s glands to make excessive amounts of mucus and sweat. It can lead to a wide range of breathing, digestive, reproductive and mineral imbalance issues. Find out more about cystic fibrosis.
- Group B strep: Mothers can unknowingly transmit this dangerous bacterium to babies during labor. Learn more about newborns and group B strep.