Here’s what you can expect during your hospital stay. Keep in mind that this is a generalization and focuses on the delivery of a healthy, term (born after 37 weeks) newborn. Some little 35 and 36 weekers may also be included depending on how vigorous and big they are at birth.
If you had a normal vaginal delivery, expect to be discharged from the hospital in 48 hours or less. Cesarean sections are a longer hospital stay (usually 3-4 days) since recovery from surgery takes longer. During your stay, you will have nurses and lactation consultants available to assist you with breastfeeding and answer any questions that you may have in regards to caring for your baby. After delivery, your newborn will be learning to adjust to life outside of the womb by regulating his/her breathing, maintaining his/her temperature, learning to eat, and regulating energy expenditure through sleep.
Immediately after delivery, your baby’s mouth and nose will be bulb suctioned by your OB-GYN or midwife to clear any secretions from your baby’s airway. The umbilical cord will be clamped by the
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doctor/midwife and your significant other will have the option to cut the umbilical cord (if he/she wishes). The baby will then be placed under a preheated warmer, dried and stimulated to encourage crying. Crying helps open your baby’s lungs and remove the lung fluid that has been present while inside of the womb. The nurse and doctor will be assessing your baby’s heart rate, color, tone, cry, and activity and assign a 1-minute and 5-minute Apgar score (“APGAR” stands for A=activity; P=pulse; G=grimace; A=appearance; R=respiration). Most babies score between 7 and 9.
A blue or pink ID bracelet (depending on your baby’s gender) will be placed on you, your significant other, and on your baby. Be sure not to take these off until you are home from the hospital. Most hospitals also place an alarm on your baby’s umbilical cord clamp or ID band. This alarm sounds if your baby is taken too close to doors, stairs, and elevators.
Once the baby is stable, your baby will be swaddled and given to you for bonding and initiation of breastfeeding. Newborns have an alert state for 1 to 2 hours after birth which is the perfect time to begin breastfeeding. Depending on how you and your baby are doing, your baby will spend approximately 1 to 2 hours with you before heading to the nursery for a thorough assessment, administration of prophylactic medication (Vitamin K injection for clotting and erythromycin eye ointment for infection), and a bath.
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Author : Diba Tillery RN, BSN, IBCLC, CPST