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After the birth

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on 22 April 2008

When your baby is born, tests and examinations will be carried out on you and your baby to make sure all is well. Make the most of the first precious few days of motherhood to get used to it and spend time with your baby.

The first checks for your newborn baby
During the few minutes after baby is born, he or she will undergo the first medical examination by a midwife or doctor. Your baby will be examined from head to toe and the vital functions will be checked to detect any complications or problems.
- The first of these is the Apgar check, a very important examination carried out 1 and 5 minutes after birth to assess how healthy your baby is (the best score being 10/10). A baby with a good heart rate (over 100), a good strong cry just after birth, good reflexes and good pink skin will have a high score. A score between 3 and 7 means there are complications. A baby with a score below this will immediately be taken to intensive care.
- Two full physical examinations will be carried out, one within 72 hours of birth, when baby's sight and hearing will also be tested; and a second 6-8 weeks later, normally at the same time as the first vaccinations.
- The doctor or midwife will carry out a neurological examination to check muscle tone and certain reflexes linked to normal motor function.
- The Guthrie or heel-prick test (blood spot screening) will be carried out to check for rare but serious conditions such as sickle cell disorders and cystic fibrosis. This will be done by your midwife five days after the birth.
- If there are any worries over your baby's health, more rigorous examinations will be carried out during your stay in hospital.

Your stay in hospital
After you give birth, you'll feel extremely tired and your body will need to recover. Nowadays, women stay in hospital for ever shorter periods of time. Make the most of your stay and rest up as much as you can. A few hours after the birth, you will start to produce milk, and if you're going to breast-feed, this is the right time to start feeding your child.

Your medical care
Your health will be regularly monitored (pulse, blood pressure and temperature). You'll be cared for and told to rest.

Help is at hand
For young, inexperienced new mums (and older ones too!!), help is at hand. While you're in hospital, if you have any questions, need advice or guidance on how to care for your baby, the doctors, midwives and nurses will be on hand to help and guide you.

Visitors
Your friends, family and loved ones will no doubt be rushing to your bedside to visit you and your baby...but don't see too many visitors. Make the most of your stay in hospital to rest up and enjoy getting to know your baby. Your friends can always visit you later, when you get home.

by Sarah Horrocks

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