Known as the golden hour, here are some of the things you can expect in the first hour after birth.
WORDS ANNA FERNANDEZ
You may not realise it, or what exactly is happening to your baby during that critical first hour, but you can be rest assured that the care that she is receiving will have a significant and lifelong impact on her development and growth. Procedures vary depending on the hospital you go to, but here's generally what you can expect.
Testing, 1, 2
Within the first few minutes after birth, your newborn will receive an Apgar score, which is a measure of her vital signs and physical responsiveness. During this test, the nurse will listen to her heart and lungs to make sure her respiratory and circulatory systems are fully functioning and making the transition from life in utero to the great unknown. Then she's weighed, measured, bathed, and checked for signs of illness.
Thereafter, your baby’s measurements will be compared with the norm for her gestational age (i.e. the number of weeks since the first day of your last period) to make sure they match.
If your baby was born premature or if she was full-term but has a low birth weight,
the doctor will use the Ballard exam instead, a checklist that assesses physical characteristics
and muscle tone to gauge relative gestational age using both physical and neurological criteria.
She'll feel your baby's soft spots for any abnormalities and examine her eyes and genitals. She'll also check for spina bifida, cleft palate, collarbone fracture (which is not uncommon during delivery and generally heals on its own), birthmarks, and hip dislocation. Your doctor will also listen for heart murmurs and check your baby’s abdomen to make sure her bowels are functioning normally.
In Singapore, BCG and Hepatitis B vaccines, which protect against Tuberculosis and Hepatitis B respectively, are administered immediately after birth. Because different vaccines work best when administered at certain ages, further vaccinations are required as your child progresses with age.
Prevention of Hypothermia
Hypothermia is a potentially dangerous decrease in body temperature, usually caused by prolonged exposure to the cold.
The highest risk of neonatal hypothermia is
within the first minutes to hours after birth because of the
stark difference between the in-utero temperature and that
of the environment outside the womb.
Also, once your baby is born, there is a rapid loss of heat through conduction, convection, evaporation, and radiation. This is because of their larger surface area per unit body weight, and the presence of a very thin layer of subcutaneous fat, which serves as a barrier for heat loss.
Maintaining an appropriate environmental temperature in the delivery room is the most important step in preventing hypothermia in neonates. The World Health Organisation recommends that the delivery room temperature be at least 25 to 28 deg C and that newborns be dried immediately, placed on the mother, and covered.
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