- Nothing! When your baby arrives he/she will still be attached to their umbilical cord. It’s important to wait until the cord has stopped pulsating before clamping and cutting so that the baby may receive all of the blood and nutrients from the placenta, their ultimate life source for the last 9 months. A recent study published in JAMA showed that children who have delayed cord clamping go on to have better fine motor and social skills.1 Delayed clamping will also help baby to regulate his or her temperature and help to prevent anemia, a condition characterized by not having enough blood cells or hemoglobin to carry-out the body’s oxygen demands effectively.
- Skip the washing. It’s true; childbirth is a messy task, however your baby’s delicate skin is coated in an oily cream known as vernix caseosa. This is what protected your baby’s skin from his/her moist habitat. Allowing the vernix to remain on the skin helps to provide the baby with natural moisture, which will help to ward off peeling of their precious skin. And if it gets on your skin, rub it in! It’s the most effective toning and moisturizing cream that you’ll ever grace your beautiful skin with. For those cute baby pictures to send to grandma, it’s okay to gently wipe away blood and mucus, but whatever you do, keep on the vernix!
- Skin-to- Skin. By far, the immediate moments after baby is born are the most crucial to bonding to his/her parents. Many psychologists have hypothesized that this infant-maternal/paternal bonding is imperative for long-term relationship development. Immediate physiologic effects of skin-to- skin with your baby include stabilization and regulation of the baby’s heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature. Skin-to-skin also help to stimulate the oxytocin receptors that in turn help to prime the breasts to make delicious colostrum (the early milk-like substance) for your baby to eat. Skin-to- skin isn’t just for mom, so dad, take off that shirt and let your newborn smell and feel your body.
- Establish Nursing. In case you haven’t heard, breast is best! It’s widely known and demonstrated to provide superior nutrition and immune support than infant formula. Ideally most mothers, if they are able to, will nurse their infants at least 6 months and hopefully much longer. With that being said, you and your baby’s only job for now will be to nurse and sleep. Right after birth is great time to begin practicing these tasks. Not to mention, being born is a marathon, and baby will need the glucose to replenish the energy spent making their world debut. Perhaps the biggest bonus to nursing in the immediate postpartum (the moments right after baby arrives) is to help your uterus contract down to its pre-pregnancy position. Physiologically speaking, when your baby nurses there is a chemical called oxytocin released. That oxytocin tells the uterus to contract and signals to the blood vessels that supplied the placenta that they’re no longer needed. This helps to minimize bleeding and expedites recovery time.
- Eat a hearty meal and enjoy what would be the most amazing oxytocin-filled nap you’ll ever have in the next year. Bask in it new parents! You deserve it.
I forgot to mention the marathon that you just went through too mom! Establishing a healthy breast milk supply is essential to the neurological and physical development of your newborn. Did you know that you need on average an additional 500 calories daily to maintain adequate milk supply? Opt for nutrient dense foods such as healthy fats, oils, nuts, proteins and whole grains. Remember when I said your only job for the next several months are to nurse (insert dairy farm joke here), sleep and love your new baby? Speaking of sleep, a full night’s rest will do your milk supply plenty good too.
1. [Andersson O, Lindquist B, Lindgren M, Stjernqvist K, Domellöf M, Hellström-Westas L. Effect of Delayed Cord Clamping on Neurodevelopment at 4 Years of Age: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatr.2015;169(7):631-638. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.0358.]↩