Your newborn is still figuring out this “breathing on your own” thing, so after a good cry, she will close her eyes and sleep for most of the day. Your newborn also does not have the ability to control her temperature effectively, so even before they hand her over to you, she will be dried off and rubbed vigorously to improve her circulation. She may even need to be placed under a radiant warmer if she appears bluish, until her body temperature stabilizes. She will then be wrapped in a blanket with a cap on her head to keep her warm.
If you have chosen to delay clamping her umbilical cord for its health benefits (such as reducing the risk of anemia and iron deficiency), the physician can clamp the umbilical cord even after the baby is placed on the mother’s abdomen. Once the umbilical cord is clamped, it will be cut, at which time blood may be collected from it for cord blood storage or simply for routine blood testing.
Within a few minutes of your baby’s birth, she will undergo a health assessment that will evaluate the heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes and skin color. This assessment will yield an Apgar score which will tell the physician if your baby needs neonatal medical attention. Any respiratory difficulties even after suctioning away the mucus in mouth and nose will be addressed by giving oxygen. Once her Apgar score puts her in the clear, then it is all about bonding with mom. In fact, skin to skin contact is encouraged as it will allow the baby to warm up faster.
If your baby is willing, you can begin breast-feeding right after birth. If you have had a cesarean section, you may still be groggy and the thought of breast-feeding may be the furthest thing on your mind. Allowing yourself to recuperate for a few hours before breast-feeding will not jeopardize your baby’s interest in it in the future. It is also common for babies to have trouble initially with “latching” onto your nipple and may spend more time licking than anything else. However, this will change soon as the baby gets hungry in the first hour or so. If you are still having trouble nursing, do not hesitate to consult a nurse to get started; especially if your baby falls asleep even before she can latch. At this time, your body is producing colostrum which is full of immune building antigens that will help your baby fight off infections. Your robust milk supply will kick in the first 48 to 72 hours after childbirth.
If your baby does not experience any health complications, there is no reason for the baby to leave your side and remain with you in the recovery room until you are ready to leave the hospital. Your baby might be whisked away for a few minutes for a more detailed health assessment but otherwise get used to her presence in your life as you know it will change forever!