first 24 hours with newborn baby
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What to Expect the First 24 Hours with a New Baby

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Your first day with your baby will be exciting and emotional, as doctors and nurses examine him or her to ensure that they are a healthy baby — oh and to teach you the essentials of caring for a newborn! While you may have already mapped out what your post-delivery hospital stay will entail, your first 24 hours with a newborn baby will be hectic. Your new bundle will be twice as busy as you are! Heck, five minutes after arrival, they are poked, pricked, measured, tested, cleaned, and swaddled. That’s a lot for someone who has just been floating and baking for 9 months. 

What You Need to Know About Newborn Care Immediately After Birth 

Labor and birth is a shock to the system, and not just for you! For babies, the birth has been exhausting, and they are now in an unfamiliar world. The space around them after birth and the feeling of air on the skin is new and strange. Inside you, your baby’s oxygen supply came through the placenta directly into the bloodstream. The moment they emerge into the air once born, the change in temperature gives the lungs a signal to start working, taking their first gasp of air, usually accompanied by the first cry.

newborn skin to skin contact

Your newborn baby will be put on your chest for skin-to-skin contact. Your baby needs sleep and food, and they need to feel secure and warm, so they need to feel your skin. Being skin-to-skin is very important because it helps them regulate their temperature, breathing and heart rate after birth.

Then there is the Golden Hour after birth

The first hour after birth when you will have uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with your newborn is probably one of the best moments as a new mom ! This period of time is an integral factor in your breastfeeding journey if you choose to do so. At this moment, your baby is very alert and responsive so feeding at this time is ideal. After the first feed, the baby may sleep for 6-8 hours and would be normal to feed perhaps only 3-4 times in the first 24 hours. Babies generally have a capacity to see objects and colours from birth but only from a distance of around 8-15 inches which is approximately from the mothers breast to her face.

What to Expect Your First Night with a Newborn at the Hospital 

A baby’s first day of life is cause for celebration. But after a day full of labor and delivery and the joy of celebration, the first night with a newborn can bring everything back to reality. For babies born in a hospital, the good news is that there is help nearby to help a new mother figure out her new role. The bad news is that those helpers also have a job to do that can make getting a little sleep even harder and that contains lots of testing on mom and baby.

Unfortunately, newborns sent to the nursery as frequently anymore. Hospitals expect new parents have to be up to the task right away. Nurses take on the role of mom coach during that first night, although many women are reluctant to ask for help. They feel the weight of responsibility right away, even though their bodies are still recovering and they have eager sidekicks at the push of a button.

How HOme Births differ

If you deliver at home, labor management might differ from what you experience in a hospital setting. Within your first 24 hours with newborn at home your midwife will periodically, rather than continuously, monitor your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and your baby’s heart rate. She will stay with you for some time then return later to check on you and your baby. 

All About Baby’s First 24 Hours

If you’ve ever wondered what newborns do in the first 24 hours in the hospital, here it is! 

Seconds after your baby is born, a cry should sound out, kick-starting the lungs. Quickly after, nurses will remove any amniotic fluid and mucus from your newborn’s mouth and nose to ensure both nostrils are fully operational. Your baby should begin to breathe on his or her own.

Nurses will also evaluate your newborns vital signs. Checking for physical responsiveness, and assigning an Apgar score. During these initial tests, a nurse will check the heart rate, listen to the lungs, assess color, monitor activity level and test reflex response. This “score” will be between zero and ten. Depending on what you’ve requested, the umbilical cord can be snipped during this time as well.

Your new bundle will receive a few protective measures to prevent medical issues shortly after birth. As long as you are both well, you and your baby can spend the next couple hours bonding and learning to breastfeed. Within the first 24 hours after birth either a nurse or your pediatrician will give baby a Ballard score. Based on your child’s length, head circumference and chest circumference, it is used to confirm gestational age. The nurse will also check the pulse, feel the abdomen, verify finger and toe count and ensure genitals have formed properly.

During the first four to 22 hours of life, your nurse will probably help you with many of your baby’s firsts – such as babies first bath and diaper change. You will also learn how to properly hold and swaddle your newborn, how to care for his or her umbilical-cord stump and his circumcision site if you opted for this procedure.

Talk about a heavy load of testing! Now you see why skin-to-skin contact is so important. During skin-to-skin contact, the love hormone, Oxytocin is released, enabling newborns and mothers to learn each other’s special scent. In these first moments after birth, you and your bundle will begin to bond. 

Newborn Feeding

Feeding your newborn baby

For the first 24 hours your breasts will produce colostrum to feed your baby. Colostrum is a rich, fatty food, full of antibodies that protect your new baby. If you choose to breastfeed, you will be offered help to get your baby latched on. If you decide to bottle feed, the hospital may provide bottles of formula milk.

Don’t worry if your little one seems uninterested to begin with: they will be tired from birth and may just want to sleep. You will have plenty of opportunity to keep trying over the next day or so. While some babies take to breastfeeding immediately, others need a bit of time and practice. It’s also important to remember that your baby’s stomach is currently the size of a small marble, so they will get full easily and may need a break before trying again.

 Should I wake my newborn to feed?

A lot of “experts” say you shouldn’t let your newborn baby go longer than 3 hours between feedings which means if your baby keeps sleeping past that mark, it is okay to wake them up to eat. Dream feeding (feeding baby while they sleep) is also an option as is waiting until they wake. I’ve personally done all three and have not seen a difference. So I suggest doing what works best for you and makes you the most comfortable.

If you notice your baby not eating in the first 24 hours, this happens most often when babies don’t get enough skin-to-skin contact with you soon enough or long enough after birth. Remember the Golden Hour? Be sure to take advantage of this moment Mama. Oxytocin causes a newborn to seek out and latch on to its mother’s breast. The hormone floods the body during breastfeeding.

How much should a baby eat the first day?

Breastfeeding the first 24 hours with a newborn can be tough. Sore nipples, weird postioning, and uncertainty around the amount your baby is getting can make it pretty overwhelming. Especially if it seems like your newborn isn’t eating much at all. This is normal so don’t be worried. It might help to know that babies are born with several days’ supply of fluid and stored fat to get them by until they’re ready to feed.

While every baby is different, on average, a healthy newborn will only drink about a 1/2 ounce in colostrum over the first 24 hours of life. A newborn should be put to the breast at least every 2 to 3 hours and nurse for 10 to 15 minutes on each side. An average of 20 to 30 minutes per feeding helps to ensure that the baby is getting enough breast milk. It also allows enough time to stimulate your body to build up your milk supply. So what happens if your baby is eating for a shorter time period?

Is a 10 minute feeding long enough for a newborn?

While it is ideal for a newborn to eat for 20 to 30 minutes per feeding (which equals 10 – 15 minutes per side) if baby is extra sleepy and just not feeling eating, do not stress. I’ve breastfed FIVE babies and all of them were like this the first few days, especially my smaller ones. It is completely normal and something they will grow out of as time passes.

While I am not personally well versed in formula feeding, I found that for newborns, 1 to 3 ounces at each feeding every three to four hours seems to be consistently recommended. Making sure to gradually increase ounces, as baby demands more. But cautious not to push baby to take more then she wants.

Sleeping That First Day 

How much does a 1 day old baby sleep

Enjoy this while you can, Mama. You have a long journey ahead! Newborn sleep in the first 24 hours lasts longer than when they are awake. Your baby may sleep for at least 18 hours of the first 24 hours, maybe even longer.

How much does a 1 day old baby sleep?

Your 1 day old baby may sleep 2-3 hours at a time per nap. Some newborns will sleep up to four hours during naps. No matter the length, your baby will wake frequently to eat. After feeding they might go back to sleep or stay awake long enough for a short play.

While sleeping your baby may make snuffling noises, but don’t worry, this is totally normal! Their airways are just getting used to the atmosphere and their new environment. Another common habit for newborns is periodic breathing; they may breathe quickly, pause for a few seconds and then start breathing again. This is also very normal.

Crying, Pooping & Other Behaviors

With such long hours of sleep, you may be surprised that your baby is not very not crying. Well that’s simply because they do not have the time! Lol. However, babies crying is their only way of communicating their needs. When your baby does cry, offer them your breast if you’re breastfeeding. If you’re formula feeding, check whether they need a bottle

There are many reasons your baby could be crying including: tired, too hot or cold, maybe they’re missing close contact. Keeping your baby near you will help you to learn their cues. If your baby is crying a lot, it may be more difficult for you to latch them comfortably onto your breast. While feeding your baby during the day, talk softly to them. Your voice and the sound of your beating heart, which they’ll have been used to hearing while inside your uterus, will help to soothe them. Your baby will also be reassured by your smell, which they will already be able to recognize as Mommy. Smell is one of your newborn’s most powerful senses. So keep baby close, Mama! 

All this talk about eating, what about digestion? Where does it all go and how does it look? In a baby’s first 24 hours their first poo will be made up of something called ‘meconium’. This is sticky and greenish black. After a few days the poo will change to a yellow or mustard colour. Breastfed babies’ poop is runny and doesn’t smell. Formula-fed babies’ poop is firmer, darker brown and smellier.

NO matter what, remember you got this!

It is totally normal to feel overwhelmed the first day with your newborn baby. It might even seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Your mommy instincts are always worth listening to! If you don’t feel prepared, don’t panic – most new parents feel overwhelmed. Try to relax and enjoy the first few days of life – you’ll be parenting like a pro in no time! 

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