Pediatric Associates of the NW Blogs

What to Expect in the Hospital After Delivering Your Baby

Heather Larson, MD
December 24, 2019 05:00PM

You’ve waited for what seems like an eternity to meet your little one…now what? Many new parents spend a lot of time planning and preparing for labor (books, classes, talking with friends and family); it’s easy to forget about what happens next! If you have a hospital delivery and haven’t spent much time in a hospital, you may feel a little anxious about the whole experience and the idea of being a patient for a couple of days. What can you expect in the hospital once your baby is born?


The majority of births go the way you desire. After delivery, your little one will be placed on your chest and you’ll both be covered with nice warm blankets. Your baby will be left there, skin to skin, to help adjust to living in the outside world. A nurse will check your baby’s vital signs while doing their best to leave you and your little one to bond.  After 2 hours, unless otherwise requested, the nurse will administer medications (eye ointment, Vitamin K, and Hepatitis B vaccine) to your baby, weigh and measure your infant. Your baby will then be returned to your arms. 


Unfortunately, we know the world is not always perfect, and all deliveries or transitional periods do not go as we plan. In the event of a cesarean section, all the above happens but the order may differ slightly depending on the situation. 


In some cases, a baby may need a little extra support transitioning to their new life outside the womb right after they are delivered. Regardless of which hospital you deliver at, there will be a team dedicated to caring for you and your little one, providing whatever assistance is needed right away. As soon as your baby is stable and transitioning as expected, the team will place your little one in your arms to finish transitioning and bond. The safety and health of both mother and baby are always the primary concern.  


After the transition and recovery phases, you will mostly be left to bond as a family. The rest of the first 24 hours are for you…please take part of the time to sleep. Sleep is a precious and rare commodity in the early months and many babies will sleep a lot in the first 24 hours after being born. Cluster feeding will typically start sometime between 18-24 hours of life and getting rest is much more challenging then.


The only other item on your little one’s agenda in the first 24 hours of life is a visit from your friendly pediatrician. During the first visit from your pediatrician at the hospital, your baby will be examined and you will have a chance to ask questions. It is completely okay and normal to either have lots of questions or none at all at this point in time.


Sometime between 24 and 36 hours of life, your baby will have their first tests to screen for a few different conditions. The standard newborn testing consists of a jaundice screening, metabolic screen, a cardiac screen, and hearing screen. All the results will be available immediately with the exception of the state metabolic screen.  This screen will go to the state and results will be available in about a week. No news is good news for the state screen, though your pediatrician will receive a copy of the results.


Throughout your hospital stay, you and your baby will have assistance from the clinical staff.  The nurses are fabulous resources for questions and helping you and your baby learn to feed/latch. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Is this normal? How do I…? What do I do if…? I suggest writing down your questions; it’s hard to remember them all when you are tired and focused on bonding with your baby. Prior to leaving the hospital, the pediatrician will visit you again to check in with you, check your baby, and advise you when to schedule your little one’s first visit check-up at you pediatrician’s office.


If you are reading this, you are probably eagerly anticipating the arrival of your precious baby. Out of superstition and years of working as a newborn hospitalist, I wish you all the best.  May your delivery go smoothly and as you hope! We look forward to meeting you and your little one.


Pediatric Associates of the Northwest offers complimentary meet-and-greet appointments with our pediatricians for expecting parents. Get to know your doctor and all the resources available to you in our offices before your baby arrives so you’re best prepared. Schedule online or call for an appointment.