What happens to your baby after birth

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

  • place him on your chest or abdomen and:
    • clear the amniotic fluid from your baby's face
    • wipe off the vernix (creamy coating on the skin)
    • stimulate him to breathe
  • assess Apgar scores two times within the first five minutes. Your newborn will be given a score of zero, one or two in five areas:
    • breathing
    • heart rate
    • color
    • muscle tone
    • reflexes

A total score of seven or more on the first test is usually a sign of well-being. The score usually increases with the second test.

  • encourage skin-to-skin contact:
    This is a special time to bond with your baby. The warmth and closeness is not only soothing and calming, it is one of the best ways to get breastfeeding started well if you choose to.

    Your baby, naked or wearing only a diaper, will be 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. This special snuggle time can also be shared between your partner and baby.
banding on mom

Skin-to-skin contact helps encourage breastfeeding and helps forge a bond. The banding can be done during skin-to-skin contact.

  • put identification bracelets on his ankle, wrist or both. 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. Not choosing the vitamin K shot increases your baby's risk of bleeding in his brain (causing a stroke)
  • 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

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, seventh edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/02/2015

  • If your baby needs extra care right after birth, he will be taken to the special care nursery.
  • Your baby may be wrapped in a blanket and you may hold him on your chest or in your arms. A hat and diaper will be put on soon.
  • The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that all infants receive a hepatitis B vaccination before they leave the hospital.
  • If you are Hepatitis B positive, your baby should receive the vaccination within 12 hours of birth.