Here's what you need to know about the immediate moments after your baby makes a grand entrance.

By week 37 of pregnancy, as the delivery date gets nearer, you may feel nervous and anxious, but don't be! Find out what you can expect immediately after you give birth:

What happens to your baby after birth

  • Your baby's weight, length, head circumference, temperature, breathing rate and heart rate will be measured.
  • Your baby will receive a first immunisation for hepatitis B (first dose) and BCG.
  • A vitamin K injection will be given to prevent the risk of any bleeding.
  • Your baby will undergo a thorough check by the doctor within the first 24 hours of birth and a hearing screening a day or two after.
  • Your baby may also go for a metabolic screening, which is recommended. Do check with your doctor about this test.

What happens to you after childbirth

  • If both you and your newborn are well, place your baby on your chest after delivery for at least an hour of skin-to-skin contact. This gives you a chance to bond.
  • Your baby's sucking reflex is the most intense in the first hour after birth so it's a good idea to hold your newborn to your chest — this will encourage and guide your child to feed when ready.
  • You'll rest in the labour ward (or an observation ward if you've had a Caesarean) before being transferred back to your room.

What to do after childbirth

  • Take the babycare and breastfeeding workshops offered by the hospital. Ask nurses and lactation consultations around to help you if you have any trouble.
  • You may request to spend 24 hours a day with your baby so you can breastfeed and bond. Let your baby suckle as much as possible.
  • Get the nurses' help if you have difficulty passing urine or are in pain.
  • You may have bleeding or what's known as lochia for a few weeks. This is normal. If the bleeding is excessive (soaking at least two pads within an hour), alert your doctor or nurses immediately.
  • You'll usually be discharged within one to two days after a vaginal birth or two to four days if you had a Caesarean. If you have other medical issues, the doctors may advise you to be hospitalised longer for evaluation and observation. Once you're home, make sure you eat healthy meals and get enough rest. Breastfeeding will take up a large part of your time.

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By Associate Professor TAN Thiam Chye Head & Senior Consultant, Dr Janice TUNG Senior O&G Resident, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific
Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore

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