Delivering babies into the world is one of the hardest (and obviously rewarding) things the female body can do. Leading up to the delivery of a new baby, many moms-to-be spend a lot of time thinking about their upcoming labor. What will it actually be like? What if something goes wrong? What if my doctor can't be reached? It's natural to be focused on the labor, and less so on what comes after you've successfully delivered your child. And if your baby is born in a hospital, it will most likely be taken to the nursery shortly after birth, handing over many of the first responsibilities to the hospital staff, before the new bundle of joy is handed off to the already-exhausted new parents. So, what exactly happens during your baby's first night in the hospital? A lot, actually, and it's all to make sure your baby is as healthy as can be.
It can be scary as a brand new mom to have your infant whisked away shortly after giving birth, but don't worry — the nurses and doctors are doing everything they can to ensure that your baby is in good shape and ready to start its life without any medical hiccups. The first thing that will happen is that your baby will given something called an Apgar Score, which according to Family Education is an evaluation to determine the baby's "ability to adapt and transition normally to life outside the uterus." Your baby will be put in a warming unit and dried of all moisture. This process helps to "minimize the loss of its core temperature."
Another important part of this evaluation is to suction all secretions out of the baby's nose and mouth. This will help your baby star to breath successfully. The doctors will look for your baby to start crying within the first minute after birth. If your baby needs assistance, the medical staff on hand in the delivery room will gently rub your baby's back or stimulate it's feet, according to Family Education.
Your baby will have a series of tests, as well, during their first night at the hospital. It's common for hospitals to administer a heel-stick blood test. The name pretty much describes itself. Your baby's heel will be pricked to collect a small sample of blood, according to Baby's First Test,and the blood is used to test for metabolic disorders, such as phenylketonuria. Parents are welcome to hold their children during the test, as well, so the baby doesn't have to experience their very first blood test alone.
The first night in the hospital is going to be a busy night for your baby. In addition to the heel-stick blood test, your baby will also receive a hearing test. The baby will receive either the Otacoustic Emissions test or the Auditory Brain Stem Response Test. Both tests have big, scary names, but they're actually quite simple. They take about 5-10 minutes and are usually conducted while the baby sleeps. They're simple, standard tests to make sure your baby isn't suffering from hearing loss.
Your baby will also be given a vitamin K shot on their first night. This helps prevent hemorrhagic disease in newborns, a rare bleeding problem caused by a vitamin K deficiency. It's also standard procedure for your baby to be immunized on its first night, as well. According to the Cleveland Children's Clinic, the hepatitis vaccination is very important because it protects against the hepatitis B virus, which can cause liver damage in your child.
Your baby will be given antibiotic eye drops or ointment to prevent bacterial infections, as well. Last but certainly not least, your baby will be thoroughly cleaned after birth and returned to you for some serious mommy-bonding time.
While your baby's first night will be pretty busy, you can take your newborn home confident that his or her health has been thoroughly evaluated.