What to do for the baby
Babies should start to breathe normally within 1 or 2 minutes after birth. Drying
the baby with a towel after birth is often enough to help the baby start breathing.
Babies who cry after birth are usually breathing well. But many babies breathe well
and do not cry at all.
A baby who is having trouble breathing needs help.
Watch for these signs of breathing problems:
• Baby’s nostrils open wide as she tries to breathe.
• Skin between the baby’s ribs sucks in as she tries to breathe.
• Baby breathes very fast — more than 60 breaths a minute.
• Baby breathes very slow — fewer than 30 breaths a minute.
• Baby grunts or makes noise when she breathes.
If the baby is having trouble breathing, leave her on her mother’s belly and
rub your hand firmly up and down her back. Never hit or hurt a baby or hold her
upside down to make her cry. If you have it, give oxygen to a baby who continues
to have breathing problems. Watch the baby closely — if these problems do not
improve, she may need medical help.
To give oxygen to a baby who is not breathing well
• give 5 liters (L) of oxygen each minute �����������������������������������������������������for 5 to 10 minutes
If you have a small oxygen mask for a baby, put it on the baby’s
face. If you do not have a mask, cup your hand loosely over
the baby’s face and hold the oxygen tube near her nose
(1 or 2 centimeters away from her face).
When the baby is breathing better, turn the oxygen off slowly,
over a few minutes.
Suctioning a baby who is not breathing well will probably not help and may
actually make breathing more difficult.
Baby does not breathe at all
A baby who is not breathing at all one half
minute after birth, even with firm back
massage, or who is only gasping for breath
after one minute, needs help immediately.
Begin to give the baby a few breaths of air.
If she does not breathe soon after birth, she
may get brain damage or die. Most babies
who are not breathing can be saved. If you
use the following steps, the baby will
probably recover well.
A Book for Midwives (2010)