Welcome Baby! What to Know About Your Newborn in the Hospital

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November 11, 2021

Hey Mama! If you’re expecting, you’ve likely spent a LOT of time preparing for what to do when baby is coming. Your birth plan is written, the hospital bag is packed and you feel prepared to bring your newborn into the world. But what about once baby is actually here? Let’s chat a bit about what you can expect with your newborn before you are discharged from the hospital!

The Golden Hour

The golden hour is the hour immediately after birth, when your newborn is most alert and the bonding opportunity is at an all time high. 

If it’s not standard policy at your hospital, it’s something you should consider writing into your birth plan and making sure you get this uninterrupted time with your new little love!

During this time, you will still be in your labor and delivery room. Your nurses should give you and your birthing partner time to be alone with your baby, with minimal interruptions. If you haven’t yet nursed your baby, your nurse may help you position and latch baby while you are doing skin-to-skin.

After this hour, nurses will take your baby’s measurements, do any routine procedures you’ve consented to and take their footprint with ink. Don’t worry, they’ll wash it off!

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newborn baby in hospital before discharge

Newborn Procedures

Speaking of washing, many hospitals consider your newborn’s first bath to be a necessary protocol. There are many reasons why you may want to consider delaying the first bath, including protecting their skin and breastfeeding success rates, although it’s ultimately your choice! We talk in detail about the first parenting choices you will be face with inside our newborn academy.

In addition to a newborn bath, there are multiple procedures that are considered standard of care: Erythromycin eye ointment, Vitamin K injection and Hepatitis B vaccine.

Each of these are things you should spend time researching the benefits and potential risks, but here is a brief overview of each:

Erythromycin eye ointment is used prophylactically to combat possible infections stemming from STDs. 

Vitamin K is given prophylactically to prevent excessive bleeding, in the case that trauma occurs.

Hepatitis B vaccine is given to prevent a newborn from contracting Hepatitis B, which can be passed onto the baby if the mother is positive.

One thing to note is that if you decline any of these routine procedures, you will be asked to sign a document saying you were given information before you opt out!

Before leaving your L&D room, your nurse will help you get to the bathroom and clean you up before you are transported to your recovery room.

Changing Rooms

Once you’ve left the L&D floor, you’ll have a new staff of nurses who will be with you and will spend a bit of time documenting information, checking vitals and explaining the upcoming screenings you’ll have during your stay. 

At this time, you’ll be given lots of informational pamphlets and paperwork to keep, with topics such as breastfeeding, sleep and newborn care.

As for baby, your nurse will put their hospital bracelet on them as well as a security monitor on their foot, which sets off an alarm if your newborn baby is taken out of your room. Just an extra layer of safety!

Before they leave you to get settled, your nurse will give you tips for how to change your newborn’s diaper to avoid the umbilical cord stump, as well as tips for getting to and from the bathroom safely! These are definitely things you’ll want to pay attention to, Mama!

Time to Rest...Just Kidding!

If you’ve given birth in a hospital before, you probably understand just what this means.

But if this is your first baby, you may be a bit surprised by just how many visitors you’ll have in and out of your room!

Between routine vital checks, screenings for your newborn, doctors checking in, food being delivered and even the trash being taken out, your first overnight in the hospital may not be as restful as you may hope. 

newborn baby bonding in hospital

Newborn Screenings

In the hospital, there are multiple screening tests that are routinely performed before you and your newborn are discharged. And while it’s not technically a requirement that the staff come in to do these in the middle of the night after you’ve finally fallen asleep, it’s more than likely that’s when they’ll do their pop-in!

But seriously Mama, sometimes these check-ins for you or baby come at a less than opportune time as you’re learning the ropes the first day on the job. It’s totally OK if you need to ask the person who has come in if they can come back in a few minutes! Most people will be understanding and happy to come back.

Take a peek below to see a general overview of each routine screening!

First, the blood screening. The blood screening requires that your newborn gets a small foot prick to obtain blood that will be screened for different genetic and health disorders. While it’s often referred to as PKU, it actually screens for about 20 different types of blood disorders!

Just so you know, Mama, it’s likely that your little one will shed a few tears with the heel prick. Nursing immediately after (or possibly even during) the little poke will help comfort them!

The second test that will be done is a hearing screening. A technician will put tiny earphones in baby’s ears and monitor how they respond to the sounds. Fortunately, it is fairly non-invasive, but can be helpful for catching any issues with hearing early!

The third screening tests for any congenital heart defects. While it is common at many hospitals, and even required at some, it’s not done at every hospital. This is done by a test called Pulse Oximetry, where sensors placed on baby’s skin measure the amount of oxygen in their blood. 

The First Night with Your Newborn

Mama, that first night can be both amazing (Woohoo! You can sleep on your back again!), but also a bit nerve wracking.

“The baby is quiet. Too quiet!” *checks that they’re breathing for the 100th time*

“Now the baby won’t stop crying--help please!”

“Oh shoot, how did the nurse do the swaddle?”

One thing to keep in mind: You are not inconveniencing anyone by asking for help.

Your nurses expect to be called in to help you redo the swaddle.

They are happy to give you any tips for getting your newborn to settle down. 

And they’re definitely not annoyed by the sound of a baby crying!

All of these things and more are likely to happen that first night and there are many people who are ready to help make your night easier!

newborn baby in hospital

Got Milk?

Since we’re talking about help, another resource available in many hospitals is an “in-house” IBCLC--aka an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. (add this to a pre birth breastfeeding class, like this free one)

The hospital lactation usually pops in your room to check on how breastfeeding is going. They typically spend about 15 minutes helping you find a comfortable position for nursing, peeking at baby’s latch on your breast and making sure you aren’t experiencing pain. Breastfeeding takes a little getting used to, but it should not hurt!

For those who are planning to exclusively pump, many Mamas find it helpful to bring their home pump to the hospital to get tips on settings and make sure their flange fits. This is totally optional and not necessary, but can be helpful if that is your game plan!

Don’t Forget the Paperwork!

Wondering how you go about getting your newborn a Social Security number or Birth Certificate?

Answer: The hospital helps you facilitate sending information to the county!

The hospital will provide the forms for getting your newborn a Social Security number and will send in the paperwork on your behalf. It’s most likely that your baby’s card will come by mail in the following weeks--so keep an eye out!

Your hospital staff will also help you get information sent off for your child’s official birth certificate, in addition to the documentation that they will send home with you when you’re discharged. 

Unlike the social security card, which is sent by snail mail, your child’s birth certificate will likely need to be picked up from your county’s record office! There’s no set time frame for picking it up, but better to do so sooner than later. You don’t want to find yourself needing the official document, only to realize you never picked it up!

Final Housekeeping

Before you can drive your little newborn home, there are a few “housekeeping things” that need to happen!

First, we want to make sure your newborn has a bowel movement before you head home! These first poops are made up of “meconium”, which is a black, tar like stool. 

Second, you will need to let the hospital know who your Pediatrician is. But no stress, Mama! It’s totally OK if you haven’t thought that far ahead. You will be assigned to a pediatrician before you head home, but you can always change who you see after!

Third, when you’re packed up and ready to be discharged after at least 24 hours (but many families choose to have another day of extra hands in the hospital), a hospital staff member will escort you out to where you’re parked and ensure that you have a proper car seat to take your newborn home.

There’s no need to bring it up to the room beforehand, but it needs to be installed in the car. 

mama taking care of newborn baby in hospital

Mama, I know it can be a bit scary to think about taking your tiny newborn home and you want them to be safe, but please understand your nurse or whoever walks you out cannot help you put the baby in their car seat or check if it’s installed correctly (this is a great task to have on your “before baby is here” checklist!)

So often Mamas prepare so much for labor and birth, but then when your newborn arrives it can get overwhelming fast! 

Having an overview of what to expect with your newborn before you’re discharged can help ease the anxiety and let you enjoy those last moments before you’re home!

That's why we launched the Newborn Course and we are so excited to walk this journey with you!

Comment with your questions!

This group, board, and guidance have been absolutely invaluable.

I was extremely comfortable asking questions, making decisions and even though nothing went according to my "plan", I couldn't be any happier with the way everything went!!!
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- Stacy A.
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