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Labor and Childbirth: Immediately after Birth

After any type of birth, your healthcare provider will closely watch your recovery. You’ll likely be able to greet your baby and start your new life together. While you’re being cared for, your baby has their first exam.

Couple in hospital holding their newborn baby.

Starting your life together

Attachment, or bonding, starts soon after birth. It’s an ongoing process that may take weeks or months. Be aware that you may not fall in love with your baby right away. Most newborns don’t look like the chubby babies you see on TV. Months spent in your uterus and time in the birth canal can make your newborn look wrinkled and puffy-eyed. A slightly pointed or misshapen head is also common. These all go away after a few days.

After birth, you may place your baby on your stomach or breast. This will signal your body to begin making milk. If you choose not to breastfeed, your healthcare provider will instruct you on how to stop milk production. If you are going to breastfeed, your healthcare provider or nurse may help you introduce your baby to your breast and start breastfeeding. Newborn babies are usually very alert right after birth. They are ready to start breastfeeding. Whether or not you are going to breastfeed your baby, your baby will likely be placed skin-to-skin on your chest. This allows your body to help regulate your baby's temperature. It can also start the bonding process.

Your immediate recovery

After birth, most women shake and get chills. This is over quickly. Your healthcare provider will watch your temperature and blood pressure until they are stable. Sanitary pads absorb the discharge of your uterine lining. To ensure that you aren’t bleeding too much, the pad and the firmness of your uterus will be checked. If you had anesthesia, your healthcare provider will watch you closely until you can feel and move your toes. If you have pain, they may give you pain relievers. If you have perineal pain, an ice pack can help.

Baby’s first exam

A healthcare provider will examine your baby in the first 5 minutes after birth, or after you have had the chance to breastfeed your baby. Your baby’s heart rate, breathing (respiration), muscle tone, reflexes, and color are assessed. Based on the exam, an APGAR (activity, pulse, grimace, appearance, respiration) score is given. Your baby may also be bathed, dried, weighed, and measured. Eye drops may be given to prevent infection. ID bracelets are placed around the baby’s wrist and ankle.

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather Trevino
Online Medical Reviewer: Irina Burd MD PhD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2021
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