What Happens at the Hospital When You Give Birth
You've given birth to your new baby. You're at the hospital. Now what? Many expecting parents have questions about exactly what will happen at the hospital - besides giving birth.
What to Expect Immediately after Delivery
Right after baby is born, parents should have some skin-to-skin contact time. Once the baby is determined to be healthy, a nurse will place the baby on a parent's chest. There is typically about an hour of skin-to-skin contact time before post-birth medical procedures begin.
While some parents are hesitant about skin-to-skin contact with the new baby that soon, the benefits outweigh the concerns. Skin-to-skin contact:
- Keeps baby warm
- Boosts mom's milk supply
- Is a beautiful bonding time for parents and their new baby
Baby's first feeding usually happens during skin-to-skin contact time, whether you're bottle feeding or breastfeeding. You will have plenty of help during this feeding. Nurses will be there to provide tips and tricks and to make the process as smooth as possible for you and baby. At least once during the hospitalization, the lactation consultant will come to your room to make sure everything is going ok and that baby is latching.
After the skin-to-skin contact time, a nurse will take baby over to the warmer and weighing station to check vital signs and measurements. At this time, baby will also receive:
- A hepatitis B vaccine
- Eye ointment to protect against bacterial infections
- Vitamin K injection to prevent bleeding problems that can potentially lead to brain damage
What to Expect the First 24 Hours
Baby will sleep in your room to establish bonding. This will help you start to understand baby's cues for feeding and monitor when they urinate or have a bowel movement. If you're feeling tired or need a break, the nurse can take baby to the nursery for a few hours.
Your baby will want to feed every 2-3 hours. There will be plenty of support to help with feeding from the nurses, pediatrician and lactation consultants. The nurses will have you monitor all of your baby's diapers too.
There will be additional tests done, including:
- Hearing test
- Congenital heart screening (with an oxygen check on a hand and a foot)
- Bilirubin/jaundice screen (with a device that scans the skin)
- The bilirubin screen may lead to a blood draw if anything abnormal is detected
- Newborn screen
- This is a blood test obtained by a heel poke checking for severe genetic or metabolic conditions (such as cystic fibrosis and immunodeficiency) that can be treated if caught early
- Results take one to two weeks, and your pediatrician will go over these with you
Baby's first bath is usually about 12 hours after birth, after making sure their temperature is stable. A nurse will show you the best way to bathe your baby.
What to Expect After 24 Hours
Your baby will be weighed again prior to leaving the hospital. It is expected that all babies lose a little bit of weight. Your pediatrician will let you know if there are any weight concerns.
You can expect to spend two or three days in the hospital after your baby is born, depending on if you had a vaginal birth or a C-section. During that time, you can expect visits from your pediatrician and OBGYN. You will have frequent visits from nursing staff who can help with any challenges or answer questions that may arise.
Your pediatrician will tell you when to follow-up in their clinic after hospital discharge and give you guidance for life at home with your newborn. Congratulations!