What happens to my baby immediately after delivery?
Immediately after birth
If you had a natural vaginal delivery, your baby will be cleaned, then covered with a blanket to keep warm. At this time, the umbilical cord will also be cut, and some blood from it will be collected to check for the blood type, and for other tests.
Your baby will also be given something called an Apgar assessment, which consists of checks on your baby’s breathing, heart rate, muscle tone, overall colour and reflex response. Your baby will also be given an ID band and possibly have footprints taken and weight recorded. Once all these things are done, your baby should remain close to you to begin bonding.
Starting breastfeeding immediately
Right after birth is a good time to start breastfeeding your baby because colostrum, which is the first secretions from your breasts, is full of nutrients and antibodies that will give your baby a healthy start to life. Sucking difficulties may also be avoided if your baby feeds properly at this stage.
Once you observe signs of readiness, your baby should be left undisturbed in skin-to-skin contact with your body. With your baby’s head on your chest and tummy facing your tummy, your baby will spontaneously seek your breast and begin to feed.
Baby’s instinctive breast crawl
Your baby would know instinctively how to suckle, but this takes some time to happen, sometimes up to an hour. You should just be patient and let the feeding take its natural course. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports the practice of healthy full-term babies to be “placed and remain in direct skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately after delivery until the first feeding is accomplished”.
Though it may take up to an hour or even two, if left alone on your body, your baby will very likely reach for your nipple and start to suckle. This is known as the instinctive breast crawl. You can click here to watch a video about the instinctive breastcrawl:
If your baby will not latch on at this point, express colostrum directly into your baby’s mouth or feed it by teaspoon or cup while gently stroking your baby. Skin-to-skin contact should be maintained at all times when possible.
If you’ve had a caesarean section, your first breastfeed can still occur in the operating room with the baby passed under the sterile drapes while you are being stitched up. When this is not possible, it will commonly occur in the recovery room, or as soon as you return to your room and you and your baby are alert to begin bonding and breastfeeding.