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Baby's Care After a Vaginal Delivery

Healthy babies born by vaginal delivery are usually able to stay with their mothers. In many cases, immediate newborn evaluations, including weight and length, giving medicine, and even the first bath, are done right in the mother's room. As quickly as possible, a new baby is placed on their mother's chest for skin-to-skin care.

Your baby will be given antibiotic eye ointment right after delivery. This is to prevent an eye infection that can be caused by bacteria in the birth canal. Your baby will also be given a shot (injection) of vitamin K. Newborns are naturally low in this vitamin. Having low amounts of this vitamin can cause abnormal bleeding during this period.

Most babies are wide awake and alert in the first hour or two after birth. This offers a wonderful opportunity for you to get to know your new baby. A baby will often turn to the familiar sound of their mother's voice. A newborn sees best about 8 to 12 inches away. This is the distance to your face when held.

This is also the best time to start breastfeeding. Babies know how to nurse right after birth. Some medicines and anesthesia given to the mother during labor and delivery may affect the baby's sucking ability. Yet most healthy babies are able to breastfeed in these first few hours. This first feeding helps with milk production. It also helps your uterus contract to slow bleeding.

You and your baby will receive matching labels with your name and other details. These are for identification. The baby's other parent may also receive a matching label. After you confirm the correctness of these labels, it will be attached to your wrist. The other labels will be placed on your baby's wrist and ankle. The nurse will check these bracelets to make sure they match each time your baby is taken from or returned to you. Many hospitals also attach a small security device to the baby's ankle or umbilical cord clamp.

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Mary Terrell MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
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