So you’ve had nine months to plan and research what will happen when you get to hospital, but have you thought about what will happen to your baby? After you’ve given birth you may not realise that your newborn will be busy being cleaned, swaddled, tested and poked in his first few hours. The first moments after birth are exciting but can also be overwhelming as you realise that you are responsible for one beautiful bundle! Read on for our guide as to what’s likely to happen in your baby’s first day.
As soon as he arrives
Every baby is unique which is why it’s difficult to determine exactly what he’ll do. He might spend a few minutes looking around trying to adjust to his new environment, or he might fall asleep straight away. Your newborn might also need a feed, provided that you’re alert, not experiencing any complications and are comfortable.
If there are no complications, your baby will normally be placed onto your chest for his first feed. Many babies latch on straight away, but if your baby’s having trouble, your midwife can help to get into the right position for a comfortable feed. If you decide not to breastfeed, you’ll be shown how to make up formula and sterilise your baby bottles.
After your baby’s feed, your midwife will put him in a nappy which will probably need changing after a few hours. Depending on your hospital, you’ll be provided with nappies or will need to pack them yourself. When your newborn makes his first bowel movements, called meconium, your midwife may show you how to hold his legs up, how to use the nappy rash cream and how to avoid leaks. Meconium is usually dark, green/black in colour and sticky. Once your baby drinks milk, the colour will change to yellow-brown.
If your newborn falls asleep straight away, don’t be surprised- giving birth is tiring for him too! Pain relief drugs may also make him drowsy, but your doctor will advise you to wake him every three hours or so for a feed.
Typically, a nurse will wipe your newborn clean, leaving the waxy vernix, a substance that protects your baby’s skin in his first few days. When you’re ready to give your newborn a bath (most mums wait until they’re home), make sure the water is at 37ºc and around 15cm deep.
Leaving the hospital
If there were no complications during birth you’ll be ready to head home with your baby shortly afterwards. Midwives usually ensure that you’re comfortable and know how to feed your baby. Fit your car seat in before you arrive at the hospital to save time- you won’t want to waste time fiddling with straps in the hospital car park! Once you’re on your own, you might feel overwhelmed and worried that you’re not prepared- but before you know it you’ll be an expert!
Bringing your newborn home is a momentous occasion and is something you’ve probably been eagerly waiting for! Your baby will probably sleep a lot at first, around 15 hours a day, waking for feeds every three hours or so. Keep an eye on his temperature by feeling his stomach. It’s a good idea to keep the crib next to your bed so it’s easier to feed him in the middle of the night. Remember, every parent feels nerves as well as excitement at the prospect of looking after their baby by themselves- just relax and be guided by your little one.