Published on March 14, 2018

newborn baby

What to Expect the First Few Hours After Delivery

The nursery is ready (or nearly there!); your birthing plan is mapped out; you even have homecoming outfits planned for you and baby. But, as you prepare to welcome your bundle of joy into the world, have you thought about what to expect immediately after baby is born? After all, the first few hours after delivery are some of the most amazing, magical and, yes, even hectic.

“Many of our new moms and dads are surprised at what happens in the first few hours after baby arrives,” says Erin Baumgardner, RN and nurse manager for the Mother/Baby unit at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. “A little knowledge can go a long way so that you, your family and friends know what to expect after delivery.”

Erin suggests that moms-to-be and their significant other sit down and talk about what those first few hours will be like, including who they want to visit and when.



Right after delivery, your baby will be placed on your chest for skin-to-skin contact, which has many benefits for mom and baby: It helps calm your little one and regulate their temperature, and it will also help boost your milk supply. After a vaginal delivery your OB-GYN or midwife will help you deliver the placenta, monitor bleeding and determine if you need any sutures. Following a cesarean section, your care team will monitor your vitals and complete your surgery.

One important note is that family and friends will be able to see you and baby immediately following a vaginal delivery (or whenever you invite them to your room). After a C-section, however, family and friends will need to wait until you are transferred to Mother/Baby, which is typically about two hours after delivery.

Depending on your little one’s interest and your preferences, you may be encouraged to breastfeed after delivery. Babies will often take a feeding soon after birth, and then sleep off and on for the next 24 hours or so.


A nurse will perform a full assessment on your baby, checking his or her heart rate, pulse, oxygen levels and ensure there are no signs of respiratory distress. Your baby will also receive erythromycin ointment for eyes to help prevent eye infection and a Vitamin K injection (in the leg) to promote blood clotting.


Mom and baby make their way to the Mother/Baby unit at Shady Grove Medical Center about two hours after delivery. This will be your room for the next 24-72 hours, depending on your delivery, recovery and if your baby needs any additional monitoring. Your partner or your support person is welcome to spend the night. However, no one under the age of 16 is able to stay overnight, including younger siblings.


The first 24 hours are important for you, baby and your partner to bond, rest and recover. It’s also important for your healthcare team to make sure you and your baby are healthy, and stay healthy. While we do keep distractions to a minimum, you can expect visits from the following:

  • Your nurse: On the unit, you will have a nurse assigned to you and your baby. He or she will regularly monitor vitals, and in mom’s case, check bleeding.
  • A pediatrician: If your pediatrician has privileges at the hospital, then he or she will see the baby within the first 24 hours after delivery. Shady Grove has staff pediatricians who will exam your little one if your pediatrician is unable to come to the hospital.

As your new family settles in the first day after delivery, you can expect more visits from hospital staff:

  • A lactation consultant will stop by to see if you have any concerns about breast feeding, or if you need any help to get baby to latch.
  • Your nurse will continue to monitor you and baby
  • Your OB will visit and discuss circumcision, if needed
  • The hospital’s staff photographer will schedule a time for newborn photos
  • An audiologist will perform a newborn hearing screening

Welcoming your baby into the world is an exciting and special time. We are here to help prepare and guide you however we can before the big day.

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