Chapter 14: The first few hours after the birth
When a baby gets an infection, she usually has a low temperature, 36.5°C
(97.7°F) or below. Other signs of infection:
• a baby who cannot keep warm even
when wrapped in blankets
• a high temperature (fever) especially
one lasting more than 4 hours
• a baby who takes more than
60 breaths a minute
• a baby who seems ill
• a baby who sucks poorly or
• a baby who has a weak, fast
If the baby shows any of these signs of infection, get medical help. If the nearest
medical help is more than 2 hours away, give the baby antibiotics on the way. See
page 279 for the kind and amount of medicine to give.
Get medical help if the baby cannot warm up after several hours — even if
she has no other signs of infection.
Baby does not urinate or pass stool within the first 24 hours
The baby should urinate and pass stool within the first day of birth. If the baby does
not do so, her urethra or intestines may be blocked. Get medical help right away.
The baby’s body
Every baby is different, but most healthy babies weigh between
2.5 and 4 kilograms (between 5.5 and 9 pounds).
You may be able to get a scale from the local health
authority, buy a hanging fish scale, or make one of the
homemade scales on page 445. But you do not need a scale to
have an idea of what a normal baby weighs. Every time you hold a baby, think
about the weight. Guess whether that baby weighs more than most babies, or less,
or about the same. This way, you will know when a baby is very small or very large
— even without a scale.
Very small babies
Very small babies who are less than 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds) have a higher risk
of infection, breathing problems, and jaundice (see page 279).
The smaller the baby, the greater the risk. Small babies also
may have trouble breastfeeding and digesting their food.
Some babies are small because they were born early, and some
are just small.
If there is a well-equipped medical center nearby, it may be
best to take very small babies there to be cared for. But if you
are going to care for a small baby at home, there are some
things you can do to help him stay healthy.
A Book for Midwives (2010)