You had a baby, now what?!!

Since you found out you were pregnant, you have been going to all your prenatal visits and all the classes. You and your OB have discussed the action plan and what to expect once its time to have the baby. You have read up on “What to Expect, When you are expecting” books and blogs.

Do you know what happens to your newborn however once he or she arrives?

It’s important to know what will happen to your child, and to understand why certain treatments are provided.

  1. Delivery room assessment: The obstetrician hands over the baby to the neonatal team, which usually consists of a registered nurse and respiratory technician. A pediatrician maybe called if any complications are anticipated. How soon the obstetrician hands over the newborn to the neonatal team depends on how well the baby is doing. The job of the team is to assess the newborn. This is done by assigning an Apgar score. This score helps describe how the baby was doing at 1 minute, 5 minutes and 10 minutes after delivery. This score however does not predict how well the baby will do in the long run.
  2. Vitamin K: After delivery your baby will have a few treatments. First is a Vitamin K injection. Infants are born with  premature livers, which is where vitamin K is utilized for blood clotting. By giving Vitamin K in the immediate newborn period, we are preventing a disease known as “ Hemorrhagic disease of the Newborn”. This is a disease in which a baby can start bleeding spontaneously due to vitamin K deficiency.
  3. Eye antibiotic ointment: This is pretty straight forward, babies born via vaginal delivery or who had a mom go into active labor, there is an increased risk of bacteria in the vaginal area entering  the birth canal. Some types of bacteria can cause eye infections and lead to blindness. By applying this antibiotic ointment, we can prevent this horrible complication.
  4. Blood work: You may notice that your child is returned to you with small slits on the heel. This is because every child born in the united States is tested for multiple inherited disorders. They are tested for illnesses that wouldn’t necessarily be picked up by a normal exam a doctor would do. We are talking about things like sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis. In Florida, babies are tested for 150 different disorders. This is called the State Infant Screen. The state lab is usually pretty good about notifying all parties involved if there are any abnormalities detected.
  5. Jaundice: Almost all babies are born with some degree of jaundice. Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin. For the most part, the majority of infants have “ physiologic” jaundice – which is normal for newborns. A few babies develop higher degrees of jaundice that may require treatment. This usually occurs if the baby has risk factors, such as blood type incompatibility, prematurity or the baby is otherwise sick with an infection amongst others. Testing for jaundice utilizes a device that utilizes light to measure jaundice of the skin or a blood test.
  6. Weight checks: Most newborns can lose up to 10% of their body weight the first week of life. While in the hospital your baby will be weighed daily to monitor their weight.
  7. Ins and Outs: By the time the baby arrives majority of new moms have made a decision as to what they will feed the baby, i.e: breast milk or formula. There is a steep learning curve when it comes to breastfeeding. You can ask for help from a lactation consultant while in the hospital. What goes in must come out. While in the hospital you will be asked to keep a log of all your babies dirty diapers. If a baby does not pass urine in the first 24 hours, or have a bowel movement in the first 48 hours, this could indicate a problem.

Most of these treatments and assessments will occur while your baby is in the nursery. Remember its important to stay informed, and if you are not comfortable with any treatment or assessment, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns.

Were you aware of all these interventions? What has your experience been?