Chapter 14: The first few hours after the birth
Help with breastfeeding
Breast is best for both the mother and baby. If the
mother is not sure she wants to breastfeed, ask her
to try breastfeeding just for the first few weeks or
months. Even a short time of breastfeeding is better
Make sure the mother understands that
if she breastfeeds her baby:
• her womb will more quickly go back to its normal size.
• the baby is less likely to get diarrhea and other illnesses.
• the mother will have more money for her family.
(It is more expensive to bottle feed a baby.)
See Chapter 16 for more on breastfeeding.
To help a
HIV feed her
see page 293.
Give the new family some time alone
If the mother and baby are healthy, give
them time alone. New parents need time
with each other and their new baby.
They may also need privacy to talk,
laugh, cry, or celebrate in some way.
I am so proud
What to do for the baby
When the mother and baby are stable, usually about an hour after birth, check the
baby over from head to toe. Many health problems can be prevented or cured if you
find them quickly.
Wash your hands, just as you did for the birth, and put on clean gloves. It is easy
for a new baby to get an infection, so everything that touches the baby must be as
clean as possible. But there is no need to bathe the baby right away. Bathing, even
in warm water, will make her cold. You can safely wait a few hours or even a few
days. Wear gloves until the baby is clean and dry to help protect you from getting
While you examine the baby, keep her warm. Cover her head and the parts of her
body you are not examining. If possible, you should warm up the room. Be gentle
with the new baby. Babies feel as much as adults do and gentle care will help them
feel strong and safe.
The most important things to check for a new baby are her general appearance
and other physical signs. Check these as soon as you can after the birth. The other
parts of the newborn exam can wait a few hours.
A Book for Midwives (2010)