Chapter 14: The first few hours after the birth
Not enough sugar in the blood
A very weak baby may need more sugar in
her blood. This is especially likely if the
baby is very big or very small, if the birth
was very hard or long, or if the mother has
diabetes (see page 115). The baby may
stay cold or tremble.
Breastfeed the baby as much as
possible — there is sugar in breast milk.
Keep the baby warm and close to the mother. If the baby does not seem more
awake and alert in 12 hours, get medical help.
Physical signs: breathing, heartbeat, temperature
Check the baby’s physical signs every hour for 2 to 6 hours after the birth, or
more often if the baby is having problems.
Count the baby’s breaths for one full minute by watching her belly rise and fall.
It is normal for breathing to slow down and speed up from moment to moment. A
new baby should take between 30 and 60 breaths in a minute while she is resting.
A baby who is breathing too fast, too slow, or with difficulty may be having
trouble getting enough air, or may be having other problems.
Baby has trouble breathing, or takes more than 60 breaths a minute
If a baby has trouble breathing, or if she takes more than 60 breaths a minute, it is
a warning sign. It could mean that the baby has an infection, has breathed in her
own stool, has drugs in her blood from the mother, or has other problems.
What to do
• Keep the baby warm.
• Check for signs of infection (see page 277).
• Lay the baby with her head lower than her bottom to
help fluids drain. Suction the baby (see page 213)
— especially if you think she might have breathed
stool into her nose or throat.
• Encourage the baby to breastfeed.
• If the baby stops breathing —
do rescue breathing (see page 242).
• Get medical help.
A Book for Midwives (2010)