Healthy Birth Practice 6:
Keep Mother and Baby Together - It's Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding
Adapted from The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence
Experts now recommend that right after birth, a healthy newborn should be placed skin-to-skin on the mother’s abdomen or chest and should be dried and covered with warm blankets. Any care that needs to be done immediately after birth can be done with your baby skin-to-skin on your chest. As midwife Ina May Gaskin says, you’re entitled to "keep your prize."
- Learn some tips for establishing breastfeeding in the early days and weeks. Register for a private pre- or post- natal lactation session with Milk Drunk.
- Visit the Baby-Friendly USA Web site to learn about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and to locate a Baby-Friendly hospital or birth center.
- Watch the video below to see the benefits of keeping your baby with you after birth.
Download the guide, Keep Mother And Baby Together to learn how upright and "gravity-neutral" positions benefit both you and your baby.
Keep Mother and Baby Together
A. Ask that your baby is placed on your abdomen "fresh out of the oven" immediately following delivery. Your baby’s natural “crawling” movements as she makes her way to your breast can help expel the placenta naturally, as well as putting pressure on your belly to help minimize bleeding. Also, once the baby latches onto the breast, you begin naturally producing more and more oxytocin, which further helps your uterus to shrink down and prevent postpartum bleeding.
B. Any care that needs to be done immediately after birth can be done with your baby skin-to-skin on your chest.
Bruising may be seen on various places of the body such as the face, or sometimes on the back. Childbirth can be pretty rough on babies, too – not just mom!
Normal Newborn Appearance
Vernix is the white, waxy substance that covers baby’s skin to protect it from baby’s water environment. How would you look if you lived in a hot tub for 9 months? The later a baby is, the less vernix he will have on his body. The baby in this picture is probably around 35-37 weeks.
Molding of the head, or “cone head.” It is completely normal and necessary for baby’s head to shape into a form that will fit through mom’s pelvis. This particular picture is very exaggerated (maybe mom pushed a long time, or perhaps a vacuum was used to assist with delivery). Just put a hat on it. No need to rub the head or try to reshape it.
Milia, or baby acne. This is a by-product of mom’s hormones and it will clear up – don’t pick at it. Some pediatricians recommend using Cetaphil to gently wash baby’s face.
Lanugo, or baby hair seen on the body, especially baby’s shoulders.
Routine Hospital Procedures
Baby’s bath usually takes place about 1-2 hours after birth. Most hospitals give the bath right there in your room, under the warmer. If you or your partner is interested in bathing the baby, just ask! You may decline a bath and/or rub the existing vernix into your baby's skin as a natural moisturizer.
You may accept or decline a Vitamin K shot, which is given in the leg to help with blood clotting. This must be given to a boy who will be circumcised.
Erythromycin eye ointment is an antibiotic put in the baby's eyes to help prevent blindness caused by gonorrhea and chlamydia. It is state mandated, but many women are now choosing to opt out.
Normal newborn screening which includes the PKU test and a cardiac test. The PKU test requires a small amount of blood acquired from baby’s heel. The cardiac screening has been successful at diagnosing many heart defects that were not caught during pregnancy. This test is done in your room and only requires a small monitor to be worn on baby’s wrist and/or foot for a short period of time.
A hearing test will be performed in your room. This is done with a small monitor placed in baby’s ear. Baby must be quiet during the testing, so hopefully she has a full tummy when the hearing specialist enters the room!
The Hepatitis B vaccine is offered to all newborns in the hospital. Many families are opting to delay this vaccine until the 2-month series of shots given by their pediatrician.