What it’s like when you are meeting your baby for the first time

Meeting your baby can be emotional – you have waited for this moment for months. It can be a time filled with love for your baby and for your partner, relief and maybe some shock that you have done it, as well as pride in your ability to make and birth your baby.

It can also be normal for you to be drained of emotion – you are happy that your baby is here but you have given everything to birth your baby and you may not have anything left. It doesn’t mean you are rejecting your baby, it just means you are tired!

As soon as your baby is born, he can most probably be given straight to you so you can meet and get to know your baby. Your midwife will make her observational checks on your baby, to make sure he is in good health but that doesn’t need to interrupt your skin-to-skin cuddles.

Meeting your baby – what does a new baby need?

  • You – she will recognise and be soothed by you.
  • Skin-to-skin cuddles to feel safe and secure.
  • Warmth – from her skin-to-skin cuddles.
  • Food – she will want to be at your breast to smell and taste your breastmilk, even if you don’t want to breastfeed.
  • If you are formula feeding, your baby may want to have a little milk soon after birth but it may also be a little while before he is ready.
  • To get to know you – chances are he will be alert and wide-eyed with plenty of eye contact.

Meeting your baby – having skin-to-skin will help to:

  • Keep your baby warm
  • Calm and soothe both you and your baby
  • Initiate feeding
  • Regulate your baby’s breathing and heartbeat
  • Stimulate production of your breastmilk – even if you don’t want to breastfeed, you will both benefit from plenty of skin to skin

What you might need as a new parent

  • Cuddles with each other and with your baby
  • Support – you may need reassurance with handling and feeding your baby, as well as reassurance that he is healthy
  • Phone calls – you might want to talk to family and friends to share your news
  • Something to eat and drink – you might suddenly feel very hungry
  • Once your placenta has been delivered you can get comfortable and rest – you might all want to snuggle up together
  • After a while, when your baby needs to sleep, you might need some encouragement to rest and sleep
meeting your baby

Newborn Baby Checks

The Apgar score is a quick way for your midwife to assess your baby’s health at birth. This score assesses: breathing, skin tone, heart rate, movement and reflex responses. If your midwife has any concerns about your baby she will most probably ask a paediatrician to check and observe your baby.

At some point your baby will be weighed although there is no rush to do this.

Feeding Your Baby

Your baby may be ready to feed shortly after being born or he may not be very interested in food for a few hours.

Let your baby have skin-to-skin cuddles on your chest, being close to your breasts so he can smell and taste your breastmilk could make him feel more secure. Offer him a feed but don’t worry if he doesn’t seem too bothered, you can try again a little while later. And you can ask your midwife for any support and reassurance with breastfeeding.

If you are formula feeding, get a small bottle ready and offer him a feed. Your midwife can help with this. It can be useful to take the pre-made formula bottles in with you so you can just unwrap it and use it.

Your newborn baby’s stomach is tiny – in the first day or two it can hold about 5ml per feed, which is the size of a teaspoon. By the end of the first week, your baby’s stomach can hold between 30-50ml. So feeds are little and they are needed often.

Meeting your new baby – Ask For Help

  • Your midwife will be around for quite a while after your baby is born to make sure you are both ok. If you are unsure about anything just ask her for more information and some reassurance – this is all new and it can be a bit daunting, especially if it is your first baby.
  • If your midwife isn’t in the room, there will be a buzzer you can press and a midwife will come in to see if you are both doing well.
  • If your baby is born at home, your community midwife will stay for a while and she will tell you who to contact if you have any concerns after she leaves.
  • There are no silly questions and you aren’t wasting anyone’s time, it is important to get the help you need.

Meeting your new baby – what if you can’t hold your baby straight away

It could be possible that either you or your baby needs some medical support after birth, which can delay the initial meet and cuddles.

If you need some medical attention, your birth partner can cuddle baby until you are able to.

If your baby needs some medical attention, it can be useful to ask questions so you know what is going on and so you can cuddle your baby as soon as possible. Depending on what the medical needs are, it may be possible to touch your baby, even if you can’t have cuddles.

Not being able to cuddle your baby straight away can be upsetting and parents can worry that their baby has missed out on those early cuddles. I can’t stress this enough – if the medical support either you or your baby needs is crucial, then that comes first, you can make the cuddles count as soon as you are able to get them.

With a calm and knowledgeable approach, my aim is informed and confident parents.

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A specialist in pregnancy, birth and early parenting

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