You and your newborn baby

What to expect when your baby is born!

Consider the fact, that you will be spending all your time with your newborn baby and that every baby has their own unique entities and characteristics, things like the shape of their ears, hands and feet.

Meeting your baby

If you had a normal birth and a no complication delivery, you will be given your baby to hold as soon as he or she has been born. I would guess that one of your first question will be instinctive …. asking “Is she all right???” and yes, this is normal. The first 24 to 72 hours the medical staff will keep a close eye on your newborn baby. They will give their thorough examination to ensure that all is fine and in order. I can recall my first 3 days I spent in the maternity ward, asking billions of questions…. don’t feel shy, you need to ask if you are concerned about something. It is their profession and they are qualified to answer your questions.

What else can I expect?

Newborn healthy babies comes in different shapes and sizes, but they share different characteristics, some like:

  • Your baby’s skin will look funny. The skin will be covered in a greasy substance called vernix – which acts as a protective barrier. Your baby will appear slightly blue until their blood circulation and breathing approves.


  • Their body – your baby’s genitals will be swollen, this is because of your hormones passed on via the placenta before birth. The swelling will disappear after a few days.
  • Your baby’s hair may be covered with a fine layer of downy hair know as lanugo. This normally rubs off in the first week.
  • Your newborn baby’s head. This may look slightly miss formed depending on normal birth or c-section, especially when your baby was delivered by forceps or ventouse. The main reason for this is that the bones that make up the skull is soft and is designed to give under pressure in order to pass through the birth canal. Interestingly you will be able to feel or notice the pulse in the soft patches on your baby’s head, called the fontanelles.

Checking your baby’s reflexes

From the moment your baby is born, your baby has a multiple range of skills and reflexes that will help them to survive. Therefore tests will be performed to ensure that the nervous system if functioning like it should.

  • Rooting, Sucking and Swallowing : the most basic reflex is sucking – the practice on this started in the wound already. She/he will also turn their head towards the touch of a breast or a finger on their cheek near their mouth as they search for food – this known as rooting. Swallowing is also a reflex.
  • Grasping – This reflex will be tested by placing your finger in your baby’s hand and they will automatically grab hold of your finger.
  • Stepping reflex, when your baby is held upright and lowered down with their feet touching a firm surface, they will then automatically make stepping movements. This reflex usually disappears within a month.
  • Protective reflexes – your baby may appear utterly defenseless. However when an object comes their way they will turn their head away and try to squirm out of the way.

The reflexes from above will be tested by your pediatrician.

Apgar Score

Yes, what a name, 🙂 but this test has been developed and name after Virginia Apgar who discovered this test way back in 1952.

Immediately after your baby is born simple tests are performed to ascertain how healthy your baby is. These tests are:

  • checking your baby’s heart rate
  • checking your baby’s breathing
  • skin colour
  • muscle tone
  • and checking your baby’s reflexes

each of these tests get a score, the scores are “2”, “1” and “0” with “0” being no response and “2” entirely healthy. Most babies score round about “7” out of “10”

More Newborn tests

  • Checking and feeling your baby’s abdomen, doctors check that all internal organs are the correct size, they will also check the baby’s pulse in your baby’s groin.
  • Hips and limbs, the arms and legs are checked and moved around to make sure that they aren’t dislocated.
  • Spine, the doctor will run their finger down your baby’s spine to ensure that the vertebrae are all in place.

Hope this article helps a bit in what to expect when your baby is born. Also read my article on “Tips to a better labour

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