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Information for parents in hospital, on what to expect in the first six hours after birth

Patient information A-Z

Caring for your newborn baby following birth

This leaflet is for all parents and birth support partners who choose to have their babies in the Rosie Hospital.

Immediately following birth

Immediate drying Your baby will be immediately dried with a warm towel, including their head, usually whilst still attached to the cord. Whilst being dried your baby will be on a warm dry surface – either on the mother’s chest or tummy or on a prewarmed towel on the bed. The wet towel will then be discarded and your baby will be wrapped in a new warm towel and a hat put on your baby’s head.

Cutting the cord This is dependent on your choice of third stage management. If you have physiological (natural) delivery of the placenta then the cord will not be cut until after the placenta is delivered. If you have an injection to assist delivery of the placenta, the cord will be cut after a few minutes.

Safe ‘Skin to Skin’ care Once your baby is born hold them against your skin as soon as possible for as long as you want. Your baby should be naked apart from a nappy and a hat and covered over their back with a blanket or blankets, depending on the room temperature. Skin to skin helps to calm your baby, regulate their heart rate, breathing and temperature, as well as release hormones to help you bond with your baby. It is really important that your baby’s head is upright and their neck is straight during skin to skin. This is so that your baby can breathe easily and also that you can see your baby’s face at all times to make sure they are ok (and your baby will love to be able to see your face too). If you are in theatre, or unable to position your baby yourself, you will be supported to have skin to skin safely with supervision.

Early feeding Feed your baby soon after birth. However you choose to feed your baby we recommend that the first feed is given in skin to skin contact. Your midwife will provide you with the support required to initiate your chosen method of feeding.

It is time to dress your baby when:

  • You have had at least one hour of skin-to-skin; or
  • After baby has had their first feed; or
  • When you, as a parent, are ready to.

To avoid your baby getting too hot or cold, there are posters in all areas of The Rosie hospital to help guide you with how many layers your baby needs. The number of layers required will also depend on the temperature of the room. As a general rule, babies should be dressed in a dry vest and babygro with one or two light blankets over them. A folded blanket counts as two layers. Consideration should be given to your baby wearing a hat in the first six hours of life after skin to skin care has finished. Your midwife will be able to advise you further if you are unsure whether to put a hat on your baby. Please bring in enough vests, babygrows and hats to dress your baby and, if you wish to use your own blankets to cover baby with, you are very welcome to bring these in too. It is important to place your baby in a cot with your baby’s feet at the bottom of the cot, with the blankets tucked into the cot safely, so they can’t cover your baby’s neck and face.

Other things to expect

  • Your midwife will weigh your baby following birth and complete an initial top to toe check of your baby, including taking your baby’s temperature at one hour of age. If you have consented for vitamin K to be given to your baby, your midwife will do this soon after birth.
  • At four hours of age your midwife will check your baby’s oxygen saturation level.
  • If you want an early discharge your midwife will complete the NIPE examination before you are discharged home.
  • If you require further postnatal care for you or your baby, or would like to stay for feeding support, you and your baby will be transferred to the postnatal ward (Lady Mary Ward).
  • If your baby requires any specialist neonatal support, your midwife and staff from the neonatal unit will explain this to you at the time.

References/ Sources of evidence

East of England Neonatal ODN (2020) Clinical Guideline: Thermoregulation. Cambridge: East of England Neonatal Operational Delivery Network

WHO (1997) Thermal protection of the newborn: a practical guide. Maternal and Newborn Health/Safe Motherhood Unit. WHO, Geneva

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151