First hours with your baby

First hours with your baby

After the birth of your baby, a new world and a great adventure begins. Knowing in detail what is going to happen in those first hours is essential for you to be calm and know how to react if necessary.

Skin-to-skin contact and first feeding

After birth, the ideal space for a baby is its mother’s body. It is there that your baby will begin to use all their instinctual behaviors that will allow your little one to reach the nipple and breastfeed. Babies know how to do this on their own, and they just need to be given the time to do it.

When a baby is placed on its mother’s naked body immediately after birth, we speak of immediate skin-to-skin contact. All the routines that apply to the baby can wait; the baby will weigh and measure the same after the first feeding. Nor is it necessary to perform any hygienic procedures such as cleaning or vacuuming the nostrils. Of course, there is plenty of time to cut the umbilical cord, and this can be done on top of the mother when the cord has stopped beating.

The baby should be placed draped over the mother’s body and allowed freedom of movement so that it can begin to crawl and creep to reach the breast on its own. This process lasts between 50-70 minutes, and it is very important not to intervene or force the baby to breastfeed. The mother should only contain his body and allow his movements. Patience (and the support of others) is the key to achieving this.

When this contact occurs within half an hour after birth, we no longer speak of immediate contact but of early contact. Normally, if this moment has been delayed, it has been to measure and wash the baby, which can interfere with the baby’s ability to reach the breast. The baby’s whole body is born bathed in amniotic fluid, and that is the same smell as colostrum. In newborns, the sense of smell is very powerful and allows them to recognize the smell of their mother, knowing how to differentiate it from the smell of other mothers.

If this first feeding occurs, it has been scientifically proven to have a positive benefit on the success of breastfeeding both in the short and long term: less chance of the mother suffering from engorgement, better latch-on, and longer duration of breastfeeding.

If this first encounter does not take place in the delivery room, there is still time. Once in the room and if less than two hours have passed and the baby is active, we can put the baby skin-to-skin and let them latch on by themselves.

If not, and they fall asleep, you can maintain skin-to-skin contact, which ensures that the baby will not have to expend energy to warm up, and you will avoid weight loss in this simple way.

The baby is born in a state of alertness, ready to breastfeed

When a baby is born, it is full of noradrenaline, a hormone that predisposes it to be attentive and ready to breastfeed. In these first two hours of life, he may be awake and active, wanting to latch on to the breast and protesting the moment he is separated from his mother’s body.

When a baby latches on to the breast on his own, he is more likely to latch on well and not cause pain. Pain is not part of breastfeeding; what you may notice is a prick-like sensation at the time of latching on. It is a brief and fairly intense sensation that should go away within seconds of starting the feeding, and it has a hormonal cause and is not related to the baby latching on. If the pain persists throughout the feeding or the pain increases, call for help because something is wrong.

After this period of activity comes the great sleep. Lethargy is a period in which the baby and mother have time to recover from the birth. The baby will sleep for several hours (about 6-8 sometimes if it has nursed effectively for up to 12 hours); it is a normal period, and it is necessary to respect it. Try to rest, because the following days are going to be hectic.

What happens if we have been separated, the baby has not been able to breastfeed, and has fallen asleep?

Things don’t always go as planned. We may not have been able to do the skin-to-skin we wanted and have had to be separated from our baby for the first few hours. If your baby is very sleepy (lethargic) when he is brought to us, and there is no way to wake him up to breastfeed, we can do a manual colostrum extraction so that we can offer it to the baby.

All you need is a spoon and a syringe to collect the colostrum. By doing a little manual extraction, you will be able to get the precious colostrum that you will be able to offer using the syringe-finger technique. Even if your baby is too sleepy, he will accept it with relative ease.

What about low blood sugar?

For a baby who has not breastfed after birth, it is even more important to maintain skin-to-skin contact with you or your partner. This simple gesture will allow them to take advantage of your body heat to keep their temperature stable, avoiding the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and weight loss.

To prepare well for those first hours, it may help to attend a breastfeeding support group and prepare the birth plan that should be provided to you at the center where you will give birth.

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