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Baby's Care After a Vaginal Delivery

Healthy babies born by vaginal delivery are usually able to stay with their mothers. In many cases, immediate newborn assessments, including weight and length, giving medicine, and even the first bath, are done right in the mother's room. As quickly as possible, a new baby is placed in their mother's arms.

Your baby will be given antibiotic eye ointment right after delivery. This is to prevent an eye infection that can be caused by bacteria in the birth canal. Your baby will also be given a shot (injection) of vitamin K. Newborns are naturally low in this vitamin. Having low amounts of this vitamin can cause abnormal bleeding during this period.

In the first hour or two after birth, most babies are wide awake and alert. This offers a wonderful opportunity for you to get to know your new baby. A baby will often turn to the familiar sound of their mother's voice. A newborn sees best about 8 to 12 inches away—the distance to your face when held.

This is also the best time to start breastfeeding. Babies know how to nurse right after birth. Although some medicines and anesthesia given to the mother during labor and delivery may affect the baby's sucking ability, most healthy babies are able to breastfeed in these first few hours. This first feeding helps with milk production. It also helps your uterus contract to slow bleeding.

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