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Baby’s First Day: What to Expect in Those First 24 Hours

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BabyPublished in Moms & Dads Today magazine, May/June 2017

Baby’s First Day: What to Expect in Those First 24 Hours

If you’re like most expectant parents, you’ll spend plenty of time thinking about labor and delivery. But what some parents don’t think about is the first 24 hours after baby is born. When should visitors arrive? How often should baby be fed? Knowing what to expect in those first few hours and days can help ease new parents’ nerves so the wonder of that time can be fully appreciated.

So What Happens First?

“Right from birth, our goal is to get baby up to a parent’s chest and be skin-to-skin as soon as possible,” said Lindsay Ekstrom, a registered nurse (RN) with St. Luke’s Birthing Center. “We want to give new parents uninterrupted time to bond right away.”

The Golden Hour, or that first hour after birth, is an important opportunity for parents and babies to bond. Immediate skin-to-skin contact can help with baby’s growth and development. Ekstrom recommends saving that time for your immediate family before allowing visitors to stop in.

“Soak up every last minute you can with baby right after delivery,” Ekstrom advised. “We usually advise that babies stay on parents’ chests for at least the first hour or until the first feeding is completed.”

Your visitors will be excited to see you and baby, but remember to take your time after delivery. Don’t feel rushed into letting visitors in, and be honest when you want alone time.

Be Part of Baby’s First Checkup

After you have alone time with your little one, your nurses will do a full physical assessment. At St. Luke’s, taking vitals and giving the vitamin K and erythromycin eye ointment can happen while baby is on a parent’s chest. This way, baby stays calm and relaxed, and parents don’t miss out on any contact.

During this time, a nurse will take baby’s much-anticipated measurements and get a set of footprints and fingerprints. Ekstrom recommends bringing a camera and baby book to the hospital. St. Luke’s also offers all parents newborn photography to capture that first day.

Then, it’s back to you and baby time. St. Luke’s encourages moms to “room-in” with baby, which means keeping baby in the room as much as possible. This helps parents identify feeding cues and get to know their babies better. “Rooming-in” is part of the Baby Friendly initiative in which St. Luke’s is in the final phase for designation.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Ekstrom, who is also a mother to two young girls, stresses the importance of asking for help whenever you need it. “Don’t think just because you’re rooming-in, you’re on your own,” Ekstrom said. “Nurses and physicians are there to make you feel comfortable, to ease pain and to help with baby. We’re more than happy to help however we can.”

That first day is also a great opportunity for educational support. At St. Luke’s, new parents receive an in-room bath demonstration. The new birthing suites include a baby-shaped sink so parents can try a swaddle bath, which helps baby relax during their first bathing. It’s one of the many new features parents can see during a tour of the birthing suites.

Moms can also get help with breastfeeding from St. Luke’s certified lactation nurses and at the on-site After Care Clinic. Whether moms are wondering if babies are getting enough milk or how often to feed, the staff at St. Luke’s can offer guidance and support. Ekstrom often answers a similar set of questions for new parents.

“We tell moms to expect one wet diaper for every day babies are old, until they’re about seven days old,” Ekstrom explained. “And as far as feeding, we reinforce the idea of feeding your baby on cue. It might seem like a lot at first, but it gets better after those first few days.”

New moms can experience a range of emotions after delivery. Ekstrom stated that it’s completely normal to feel emotional in the days after giving birth, but remember to check in with yourself. Talk to your doctor or care provider if these feelings continue after a couple of weeks.

Having a baby is an experience unlike any other. By understanding what’s to come in those first few days, parents can be better prepared for the challenges and joys of parenthood.

For more information on the new birthing suites, expectant parents can visit

*This is a typical timeline of events once your baby is born. Please be aware that there may be variations.