3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> First Few Moments for You and Your Baby

First Few Moments for You and Your baby


Nothing can prepare you for how you will feel when you first see your baby. Babies are often blue when they are born, but their colour changes as soon as they take their first breath. He may be covered in vernix, the white sticky lubricant which has kept him waterproof during his weeks in the amniotic fluid. If you want your baby to be placed onto your belly when he is born, let the midwife know.

Contact

Whether you are breast-feeding or bottle-feeding, try to have some skin-to-skin contact with your baby immediately after the birth, to start the bonding process. Cuddle and stroke your baby, and give him an opportunity to smell and feel the warmth of your skin and listen to your voice talking to him.

Think about the surroundings into which he has been born. Ask if the lights can be dimmed and the noise kept to a minimum so that the birth is less of a shock for him.

Feeding

If you have decided to breast-feed, you may want to put your baby to the breast soon after the birth. Babies have very strong sucking reflexes during the first hour and often latch on really well. Putting your baby to the breast also causes a reflex that helps your uterus contract, which reduces the amount of bleeding. However, your baby may be too exhausted and not particularly interested in feeding - after all, he has had a tiring, stressful few hours as well.

Some babies need an early feed to help boost their blood-sugar level, especially if they needed any medical attention when they were born and used up a lot of energy to get their heart and lungs working well.

If you need help with breast-feeding the midwife will be there to advise you. Once you feel confident, try putting your baby to the breast yourself and then asking the midwife to check that he is latched on properly. Some babies latch on immediately, but the majority need to learn what to do. To start with, your baby may only take a few sucks at a time, but this is quite normal. He is discovering what to do, getting to know your smell - and stimulating your breasts, which will help to produce more milk.

It can take a couple of weeks to get the hang of breastfeeding: just because your baby is not interested at first does not mean that you cannot do it.

Time together

In the period after the birth, it is important that you, your partner and your baby spend some time together in order to get to know each other. Your baby does have to be weighed and measured, but there should be no rush to get this done immediately. After all, the measurements are not going to change drastically in a few hours. The midwife will make sure that you are comfortable and that the bedding is changed for you.

You will probably be desperate for a cup of tea and a light snack after all your exertions, and these will be brought to you in the room. This is a very special time, but you may still be shocked and exhausted after the delivery. After coping with contractions every couple of minutes, and then the effort of pushing out your baby, it can seem really bizarre when it all suddenly stops. Your body is resting, the pain has gone, and you have this amazing baby in your arms - who, only minutes earlier, was your bump.

Will my partner be allowed to cut the cord?
Many partners love the thought of being the one to cut your baby's cord, and find it symbolic that they are making that separation between you and your baby. Occasionally the cord is around your baby's neck, in -which case the midwife will slip it over his head or clamp and cut it. Otherwise there is no reason why your partner cannot do it. Even if he is not keen at the moment, it is worth asking him again because he may change his mind when the baby is born.

What happens after the placenta is out?
Soon after you have given birth, the midwife will check over you and your baby. She will make sure that your baby is breathing regularly and that there are no obvious problems. She will put her hand on your tummy to feel that your uterus is well contracted so that the blood loss is not too heavy. If you have torn during the birth, or had an episiotomy, the midwife will stitch it as soon as she can. However, not every tear needs stitching - it depends on how deep it is, and whether or not it is bleeding. Your midwife will look at it and assess the damage.