Your baby’s first 72 hours: what to expect

Posted on 5 February 2019

Having a child is a life-changing event. And while the day of a baby’s arrival is full of excitement and activity, the first 72 hours after birth are a critically important period in terms of your newborn’s health.

“The number one priority after childbirth is to ensure the effective stabilisation of your baby,” says Dr Heidi Ackermann, a paediatrician at Mediclinic George. “Top to bottom testing begins almost immediately after delivery, in order to detect any abnormalities and anticipate possible future problems.”

Aside from recording your baby’s weight, this full examination extends to assessing your baby’s breathing and colour, as well as any abnormalities in the heart, back and genitals. Your baby will also receive a vitamin K injection shortly after birth.

The second and third days post-birth sees a general repetition of the testing process to assess whether anything has changed.

“Special attention is given to feeding on day two and three,” says Dr Ackermann. “And your baby is usually bathed for the first time. Parents are usually encouraged to participate for education purposes. Your paediatrician will continue to visit you and your baby daily, providing advice on specialised screening tests and answering any questions. These tests include the Neonatal Metabolic Screen, as well as a hearing screen. Your baby will also receive its first immunisations before discharge.

“While the nurses and your paediatrician will keep an eye on your baby to monitor her progress, we encourage parent-child bonding, and help to initiate and establish the feeding process.”

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In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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