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


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….


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Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.