newborn baby

What To Expect After Delivery

By Jordan Blessing, MD St. Luke's Hospital, St. Luke’s Birthing Center

How St. Luke’s Prepares Your Newborn to Thrive

The time right after a delivery is truly magical. You finally hold your newborn, share those incredible moments of bonding, and will likely begin to breastfeed. There’s a reason this time is known as the Golden Hour.

The remaining hours between delivery and discharge are just as special and important. In order to ensure your newborn is healthy and thriving, our Birthing Center staff performs a few standard tests and procedures.

Here’s more information on what they are, when they typically occur, and how they help your little one.

Vitamin K injection

A dose of Vitamin K will be given as an injection in your newborn’s thigh shortly after birth.

Infants are born with very little Vitamin K in their system, which is vital for proper blood clotting. This dose decreases bleeding from procedures such as male circumcision, and greatly reduces the risk of spontaneous life-threatening internal bleeding. Safe for all newborns, this dose of Vitamin K is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Hepatitis B vaccination

Vaccination against Hepatitis B is recommended for all newborns within 24 hours of birth or, in some cases, even sooner. This vaccination protects your child from Hepatitis B infections, which can result in chronic life-long liver disease, liver failure, the need for liver transplantation, or even death.

The Hepatitis B vaccination is safe for all newborns and is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Eye ointment application

Within the first 24 hours of your baby’s birth, a small amount of an antibiotic ointment (erythromycin) will be applied to their eyes. This reduces the risk of eye infections that can lead to blindness if not treated.

Applying this antibiotic ointment is safe and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Blood spot screening (PKU test)

A small amount of blood will be collected from your newborn 24 to 48 hours after birth. This sample will be analyzed for a variety of genetic and metabolic disorders that can be lethal if they are not quickly diagnosed and properly treated.

In many cases, blood testing can be completed before signs of illness develop. This allows for appropriate interventions to be started early, which can prevent or lessen symptoms.                                             

CCHD test

Testing for Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) is recommended for all newborns and helps detect several types of newborn heart disease, if present. This pain-free test measures oxygen saturation levels in the blood by placing a sensor on your infant’s skin. 

This test is recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF).

Hearing test

This is a pain-free procedure performed prior to going home and is recommended for all newborns. Hearing loss is important to diagnose as early as possible to promote maximal development in the newborn period.

Hypoglycemia test

Some infants are at risk for low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). This depends on factors including being small or large for their age, prematurity and maternal diabetes. Even without these factors, some infants develop hypoglycemia.

If low blood sugar levels are left untreated for prolonged periods of time, a newborn’s cognitive development can be affected.

A small blood sample will be taken from your newborn’s heel to test their blood sugar levels. Treatment for hypoglycemia may include feeding more frequently, formula supplementation or IV fluids.

Hyperbilirubinemia test

Bilirubin is a product in the blood that rises during the first few days of a newborn’s life. Jaundice, when a newborn’s skin and eyes turn yellow, is caused by higher levels of bilirubin. When an infant’s bilirubin level rises too high, it is called hyperbilirubinemia. This can put the infant at risk for a brain injury called bilirubin-induced neurologic dysfunction.

All infants are screened at least once for hyperbilirubinemia before they go home. This is often done by placing a painless sensor on your infant’s skin (TcB testing), but may also require a blood sample. If hyperbilirubinemia is present, treatment is required and may include phototherapy (blue lights), IV fluids and, in rare situations, a blood transfusion.                           

Car seat challenge evaluation

Infants with certain risk factors including prematurity, small size or low muscle tone will need to have a car seat challenge evaluation prior to discharge.

This evaluation involves placing the newborn in their personal car seat inside the hospital for at least 90 minutes. During this time, your child will be closely monitored to ensure that this position does not affect their ability to breathe.

To make an appointment with Dr. Jordan Blessing, MD


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