After Giving Birth - Your Baby

Once your baby is born a lot of things happen in a short space of time.

Apgar score

The Apgar score is achieved by doing some basic tests to assess the health of your newborn baby.

They evaluate:

  • Heart rate
  • Breathing
  • Colour
  • Reflex
  • Muscle tone

These are tested twice, at one & five minutes after birth. Your baby will be given a score, up to a possible 10. But a low score does not predict future problems; it is usually an indication of baby needing a little extra help after birth and should not be a cause for concern.

Weighing and measuring

When your baby is born she will be weighed to obtain her birth weight. She will also be measured to find her length and head circumference.  

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is given to babies to enable the blood clotting process to take place. It helps to prevent a bleeding disorder which is very rare but can prove fatal. It was reported in the media that Vitamin K may have a link to some cancers in children, after one study. Many further studies were carried out in Europe and America and this research found no link to childhood cancers. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health recommend that all newborns receive Vitamin K.

Vitamin K is given in one of two ways:

  • A single dose given by injection
  • Two or three doses (depending on if the baby is breast fed) orally. This is done over 7 days if two doses are required or 28 days for 3 doses.

You will be asked if you wish your baby to have Vitamin K before it is administered. I would recommend you also state your preference on your birth plan.

Heel prick test

A few drops of blood are taken from your baby’s heel to be screened for certain rare disorders including phenylketonuria (PKU) and hypothyroidism. These disorders can pose a serious threat to your baby’s health, but with early treatment this can be prevented. It is done about a week after birth. For more information see www.newbornscreening-bloodspot.org.uk

Hearing test

Your baby will have a hearing test during their first few weeks of life. It is a safe and simple process which can detect any hearing loss in newborns. Early identification of a hearing problem can mean your child has the benefit of specialist help and support, as soon as possible, which will prove invaluable for both your child and yourself.

Paediatric examination

Your baby will be examined by a paediatrician within 48 hours of delivery.

They will check the following:

  • Shape of the head, fontanelles (soft spots), and any marks such as those left by forceps or ventouse.
  • Eyes and ears.
  • Mouth – to check for cleft palate or tongue tie.
  • Listen to the heart.
  • Listen to the lungs.
  • Skin.
  • Hands and feet.
  • Abdomen.
  • Spine.
  • Hips.
  • Genitals.
  • Reflexes.

They may also ask about your medical history and that of your family

Cord care

Once the umbilical cord has been clamped at the navel and then cut it will begin to shrivel and die. It needs to be kept clean and dry. To clean the cord use plain water and cotton wool and dry well. The cord stump will eventually drop off. Don’t worry this won’t cause your baby any discomfort.

Special Care Baby Units (SCBU)

If your baby needs any extra help after birth they will be taken to the special care baby unit.