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Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond

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Giving birth: What happens to your baby after birth

Right after your baby is born, the health care team will:

  • clear the amniotic fluid from your baby's nose and mouth, if needed.
  • wipe off the vernix (creamy coating on the skin).
  • assess Apgar scores two times within the first 5 minutes. Your newborn will be given a score of zero, one, or two in five areas: breathing, heart rate, color, muscle tone, reflexes. A score of seven or more on the first test is usually a sign of well-being. The score usually increases with the second test.
  • dry him and give him to you:
    • for skin-to-skin contact.
    • banding on mom

      The banding can be done during skin-to-skin contact.

      skin-to-skin contact

      Skin-to-skin contact helps encourage breastfeeding and helps forge a bond.

      • This is a special time to bond with your baby. The warmth and closeness is not only soothing and calming, it will help you learn your baby's feeding cues.
      • Wearing only a diaper, your baby is placed on you with his tummy on your bare chest. His head will be turned to one side.
      • You can wrap a blanket or large towel around both of you. When your skin-to-skin contact is done, gently lift your baby off your chest and dress him.
    • wrapped in a blanket. You may hold your baby on your chest in your arms. A hat and diaper will be put on soon.
  • put identification bracelets on his ankle and/or wrist. These bracelets match the ones you and your partner will have.
  • give a vitamin K shot to help your baby's blood to clot.

    Babies do not get enough vitamin K from their mothers during pregnancy or when they are breastfeeding.

    The easiest way to give babies vitamin K is by injection (shot). One shot just after birth will protect your baby for many months.

    You can choose for your baby not to have this shot.

  • put an ointment in his eyes to prevent an infection that can lead to blindness.
  • take footprint impressions for a memento.
  • make every effort to fulfill your requests to hold, nurse and photograph your baby.

Special care nursery

If your baby needs additional care right after birth, she will be taken to the special care nursery.

Hepatitis B vaccination

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that all infants receive a hepatitis B vaccination within 12 hours of birth.

Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. The virus can be spread from mother to baby during childbirth.

Hepatitis B shots are part of regular childhood vaccinations.


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, ISBN 1-931876-14-2

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 08/15/2011

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts