The First Hour
The seconds and minutes after birth are no doubt the most miraculous and wonder-filled moments you will ever experience. At last, your baby is in your arms after all the months of hopes and dreams. No one could doubt that you expect to experience every nuance of this awe-inspiring event.
It's only natural that parents would prefer not to be interrupted by hospital staff during these very intimate moments alone with your new baby in the first hour of his life. This is a very private and significant milestone for you, your baby, and your baby's father. For this reason, it is the most logical thing in the world that you will write up a birth plan and specify that if at all possible, you and your partner wish to have undisturbed time with your baby after the birth.
The hospital staff tends to be in a rush to do all the practical baby-related errands such as applying eye ointment, giving the baby his vitamin K injection, washing him up and measuring his head, height, and weight. But in just about every case, all of these tasks can wait a bit until after you've had the chance for lengthy alone time with your brand new infant. As long as your baby is full-term, his chances of being a healthy normal infant are 90% and there is no harm in waiting to give him that evaluation. He can wait at least an hour.
Of course, there are some tasks that need to be done before you can have and hold the baby. The staff will give him a gentle rubbing with warm towels so he won't lose his body heat. But after he's good and dry and has passed his one and five-minute Apgar tests with flying colors, your baby is yours to hold for an hour or so.
The baby may be placed on your tummy, or perhaps between your breasts. Sometimes the partner will climb into bed with mother and the baby can be placed in between the two of you as you all take a little rest from the birth.
Even just after the birth, your baby recognizes your voice and your smell and feels safest next to you. Leaving the womb is hard for your baby, but feeling you next to him makes everything just a little bit easier for him. Because your body is warm, it acts as a sort of natural incubator to help keep baby warm.
Studies have shown that babies placed near their mothers in bassinets after the birth will cry 20-40 seconds every five minutes during the first hour and a half of life. But when babies are placed skin-to-skin with their mommies, they almost never cry during this 90-minute after-birth period. Infants know what they need and they get that a bassinet is a poor substitute for a nice warm good-smelling mother.