That moment when you see your baby's face for the first time is magical. If you've had an uncomplicated birth, you will be able to hold your little bundle of joy immediately after delivery.
Your baby's first look
Your baby may be covered in amniotic fluid, blood, and vernix, a white, cheesy protective coating produced during the last trimester of pregnancy. Your baby's shape and size may also surprise you.
Head size: Your baby's head may appear slightly elongated from being pushed through the birth canal. Don't worry; your baby's head will return to its normal oval shape within a few days.
Skin: Your baby's skin may appear a little bluish at first, but gradually will start to become pink as their breathing becomes regular. Your baby's hands and legs may be slightly blue for several weeks.
Face: Your baby's face may appear somewhat wrinkly because of the wetness and pressure of birth.
Your baby's behaviour after birth
Most new-borns will start to cry immediately after birth. Most babies then begin to look around at their surroundings before falling asleep. Some babies might want to feed.
Skin to skin contact
Skin to skin contact after birth is an excellent way for you to bond with your baby.
Your baby will be put on your chest for skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth without anything between you so that your baby's skin touches your skin, provided you both are doing well. Healthy infants can remain in direct skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately after birth for at least an hour or until the first feeding is accomplished.
The World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund recommend skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth.
Skin-to-skin contact is essential for both you and your little one.
For your little one, skin to skin contact,
- Stabilizes their heartbeat
- Calms and relaxes them
- Regulates their body temperature
- Regulates their breathing
- Stimulates digestion and encourages breastfeeding
- Makes them feel safe and secure
- Helps them acquire your friendly bacteria, thus protecting against infection
- Reduces stress hormones
For you, skin to skin contact,
- Stabilizes your heartbeat and breathing
- Helps you bond with your little one
- Encourages secretion of hormones related to breastmilk supply and breastfeeding
- Gives you more confidence in caring for your baby
You shouldn't worry if your baby is taken to the nursery after birth or if you are sedated during the delivery. Your relationship with your baby will not be affected because you didn't bond during the first hour after birth.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. First sight of your new-born after a routine vaginal delivery [Internet]. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/delivery-be.... Accessed on Aug 14, 2020.
- Public Health Wales. Bump, baby & beyond [Internet]. Available at: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/documents/Pregnancy%20to%204%20Years%20Book%20FI.... Accessed on Aug 14, 2020.
- Raising Children Network (Australia). After baby is born: What to expect in the first hours [Internet]. Available at: https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/health-daily-care/first-week-of-.... Accessed on Aug 14, 2020.
- The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. The importance of skin to skin for parents and baby [Internet]. Available at: https://www.royalwolverhampton.nhs.uk/services/service-directory-a-z/inf.... Accessed on Aug 14, 2020.
- UNICEF, UK and Baby Friendly Initiative. Skin-to-skin contact [Internet]. Available at: https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/baby-friendly-resources/implement.... Accessed on Aug 14, 2020.
- World Health Organization. WHO recommendation on skin-to-skin contact during the first hour after birth. [Internet]. Available at: https://extranet.who.int/rhl/topics/newborn-health/care-newborn-infant/w.... Accessed on Aug 18, 2020.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Bonding with your baby [Internet]. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/delivery-be.... Accessed on Aug 14, 2020.