What to Expect: Newborn Screening Tests and More After Delivery
After welcoming your little one into the world, your healthcare team will focus on creating bonding time and making sure you and baby are safe and well. You’ll cuddle with your baby and get to know each other. Your baby will also have important newborn tests and evaluations after delivery to make sure they are healthy. Here is what to expect and how you can stay involved in your baby’s care during the first hours of life.
Your Newborn’s First Screenings Tests
Some newborn testing and evaluation happens within minutes of giving birth. If you’d like to delay this for the first hour, or have your newborn’s evaluation and testing done bedside, communicate your wishes to your doctor and list your preferences in your birth plan.
Here are common newborn screening tests that your doctor or nurse will do:
- Apgar evaluation. Your doctor will do Apgar tests at one minute after birth and five minutes after birth to measure your baby’s heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin color.
- Hearing test. Most babies will have a screening before they leave the hospital to check for possible hearing defects.
- Metabolic screening. A doctor or nurse will prick your baby’s heel and take a small sample of blood to test for several illnesses, including phenylketonuria, hypothyroidism, and sickle cell disease.
Babies also get their first shots before leaving the hospital. These include:
- Hepatitis B immunization. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends newborns have a hepatitis B shot before leaving the hospital. This is the first in a three-part series to prevent the infection.
- Vitamin K shot. Babies often have low levels of Vitamin K after birth. This can cause a rare but dangerous bleeding problem. Vitamin K shots can prevent serious bleeding in newborns.
Stay Involved in Your Newborn’s Care
Here are some ways to be included in your child’s care during the first days after birth.
Many women choose to spend the first hour after birth having uninterrupted time with their baby. This is called the golden hour. During the golden hour, women can have plenty of skin-to-skin contact and opportunities to breastfeed. Routine procedures can happen during the golden hour or be delayed.
Rooming-in is when a mother and healthy infant stay together in the same room for 24 hours a day immediately after birth. This also gives your nurse and doctor the opportunity to care for you and the baby at the same time. Rooming-in gives a mother more time to breastfeed, increases parenting confidence, and can be protective against stress.
Breastfeeding is a natural time for bonding between mother and infant. If breastfeeding is challenging, lactation consultants are readily available to provide assistance. You can also be proactive about breastfeeding concerns before birth and take a birthing education class. Classes are led by a lactation specialist who can answer any breastfeeding-related questions.
Learn more about the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Birthing Suites.