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What Happens in the Minutes After Delivery?

You’ll be forgiven if you don’t remember everything about labor once it’s over. It can be a blur of contractions, pain medication, and excitement. Afterward, you’ll be so busy meeting your baby that you’ll probably tune out what the doctor is doing. What happens in the minutes after delivery? The action isn’t quite over once the baby arrives.

Taking the First Breath

In the movies, everyone holds their breath until they hear the baby cry for the first time. In truth, though, they might not cry right away. A few moments after delivery, those little lungs will fill up with air. Nurses will rub, dry, and warm up the baby to encourage them to clear fluid from their respiratory tract. In some cases, the doctor might need to suction the baby’s mouth first to clear away any meconium.

Clamping the Umbilical Cord

Once the baby is breathing their first gulps of air, they no longer need their umbilical lifeline. The doctor will clamp the cord unless you’ve requested to delay the process by a minute or so. If you’ve enrolled in a cord blood banking program, the doctor will use a provided kit to collect blood, tissue, and stem cells. Then, your partner or the doctor can cut the cord.

Delivering the Placenta

This organ was specially grown for pregnancy to transport nutrients to the baby through the umbilical cord. Obviously, it’s no longer needed. It should emerge from you on its own soon after the baby arrives. You probably won’t even notice it happen. But if it doesn’t deliver independently, your doctor can gently extract it.

Testing Vitals

You’ll help your child survive many tests in life, and it starts with the Apgar. They don’t have to ace it and get a ten, although a higher score is better. One minute after the baby is born, your obstetrician will measure heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes, breathing, and skin color. The process is repeated five minutes later after the baby has gotten more used to breathing.

Holding the Baby

Immediate skin-to-skin contact is encouraged between mother and child because it’s been shown to have several benefits. It can regulate the baby’s heart rate, body temperature, and breathing and can help kick-start the baby’s interest in feeding. The doctor will lay the baby on your chest or tummy and cover both of you with a blanket for warmth. That’s the most important thing that happens in the minutes after delivery. Together, you and your baby will learn to breastfeed, experience some calm, and—finally—bond.

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