what happens after my baby is born
Labour & birth

What happens after your baby is born?

Find out about the health checks and procedures that happen immediately after your baby’s birth. Here’s what happens after your baby is born:

After birth, the umbilical cord, which acted as your baby’s lifeline during pregnancy, will be clamped and cut. The optimum time for cord clamping is three minutes. The midwife will tell you how to care for the cord stump before you leave the hospital.

Your baby will be given an identity wrist and ankle band, detailing the date and time of the birth; the hospital number; baby’s sex; and mother’s name. All the details will be crosschecked with you. All babies will also get an alarm-based security tag, which is computerised to match their specific hospital number. This is placed on your baby’s leg along with their identity bracelet.

If you and your baby are well after the birth, your baby will be placed skin-to-skin (baby is placed under your t-shirt/nightdress for comfort, warmth, security and to commence breastfeeding). The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 60 minutes of skin-to-skin contact to promote breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin contact also helps to promote bonding, and encourages normal infant breathing and heart rate patterns.

Baby check

After you have had some time to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby, which is the start of the bonding process, they will be weighed, and given a basic examination by the midwife. They will check their fingers, toes, the fontanelles (the soft spots on your baby’s skull), the spine, and that the palmer creases, which are two creases that run across the palms of the hand, are there.

Many babies are a little ‘blue’ when they are born, so don’t get a fright; it can take a minute or two for them to turn ‘pink’. Also many babies have a conical shaped head when born. This occurs as they navigate their way out of the birth canal and this usually settles in a day or two. Your baby’s hands and feet can be slightly pale for up to 24 hours, again this is normal, their circulation will improve in a few days.

Medical tests

The APGAR test will also be carried out on your baby. This is a way of checking baby’s condition and is done one minute after birth and again five minutes after birth. Heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin colour are all assessed. A healthy baby will have a score of seven or higher. A baby with a lower score may need time to recover from the birth. Babies with very low scores will need medical attention. A paediatrician/neonatologist will carry out a complete check of your baby within a day or two.

what happens after my baby is born

If it was an instrumental birth or if baby was in distress during the first or second stage of labour, a paediatrican will be present. They will do a comprehensive check on your baby, looking at head and length measurements. If a baby needs bloods, they will be brought to the neonatal unit for a septic work-up. This entails the baby going to the intensive care nursery soon after birth, having swab tests, urine samples, blood taken and sometimes a spinal tap to check for infection. They will also give your baby antibiotics intravenously in the nursery for 48 hours, until all the tests come back clear.

First feed

Skin-to-skin contact is encouraged for the first 60 minutes of a newborn’s life, and the first feed is also encouraged during this time. This causes a reflex that helps the uterus contract, reducing bleeding. However, while some babies need an early feed and can latch on really well, others may be too sleepy to be interested in feeding. Your midwife will help you assess the situation.

Mother’s health

The midwife will also review your condition. Your vagina will be checked for tears and sutured after delivery of the placenta. The midwife will also check that your blood loss is not too heavy and that any problems such as a rise in your blood pressure, are quickly identified.

Look after yourself

  • Ensure you drink plenty of water and your diet is high in fibre (such as bran, oranges and brown bread) to prevent constipation.
  • If you breastfeed, persist with it; you are giving your baby the best start. The midwives will assist you as much as you need.
  • Have two to three showers every day to help any tears/episiotomy heal.
  • Rest when you can and aim to rest/sleep when your baby is asleep.
  • You may require pain killers for a few days following birth. Take them if you need them as you need to feel well to be able to get up and about to care for your baby.
  • Bring in some snacks – although your nutritional needs will be met in hospital a small personal supply of food such as banana and cream crackers can be a good idea.

More like this:

Maternity care and public health nurse
The ultimate hospital bag checklist
Missing being pregnant after giving birth

Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.



Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….