After Your Baby Is Born

What to expect after delivering your baby

A mother holds her sleeping baby.

What to expect after delivering your baby

There is so much to think about when you’re preparing for the birth of your baby that you may not give much thought to what happens after childbirth. Here’s what to expect right after delivery and as you recover.

The golden hour

The first hour following the birth of your baby is known as the “golden hour.” Research has shown that what happens during these first 60 minutes of a baby’s life can have a significant impact on mother-baby bonding. 

It is especially important to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby as soon as possible after birth. The American Association of Pediatricians now recommends that healthy newborns be placed in “skin-to-skin” contact with the mother until the first round of breastfeeding is established. The baby can be examined while on the mother’s chest, and other screening procedures can be completed after the first feeding.

In the case of a cesarean section related to a medical emergency, the baby can be moved to the mother’s chest as soon as possible after birth to encourage bonding during this special time.

Newborn screening

Immediately after delivery, your physician or nurse will examine your baby to ensure that he or she is healthy. If you and your baby have both had a delivery that is free of complications, most of these tests will be performed at the bedside while your baby is on your chest. They are usually brief and include:

Apgar scoring

Performed at one minute after birth and again at five minutes, Apgar scoring measures your baby’s heart rate, skin color, breathing, muscle tone and reflexes.

Eye ointment

To protect your baby’s eyes from infection, we will place ointment in them.

A vitamin K injection 

This injection, given in your baby’s thigh, stimulates coagulation to prevent bleeding.

A hepatitis B vaccine 

This is the first in a series of three injections given to protect the liver and prevent contracting the hepatitis B virus.

All babies need care after birth, but some require more specialized care. Scripps Health and Rady Children's Hospital offer four levels of specialized care for infants that need it.

24-hour rooming-in

After the birth, we encourage you and your baby to stay in the same room together. This gives you an opportunity to develop a close relationship and become confident holding, feeding and caring for your newborn.

Postpartum rooms

After delivery and recovery, you and your baby will move into a postpartum room for the rest of your stay. To provide a comfortable setting, all of our family-centered postpartum rooms include inviting furnishings, televisions, telephones, fully adjustable beds and sleep accommodations for your support person.

The length of your stay in the hospital may be determined by your health, your baby’s health and the type of delivery. You may want to check with your insurance company prior to delivery to determine coverage so there will be no surprise out-of-pocket costs.


The decision to breastfeed or formula-feed your baby is a personal one. At Scripps, we encourage new mothers to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding so they can make an informed decision. Lactation consultants are available at all Scripps facilities to help you and your baby learn together and to work through any difficulties.

Cord blood banking

The blood in your baby’s umbilical cord contains young stem cells, which can be stored and used to treat many different diseases. Extracting cord blood after your baby is born is a simple, painless procedure. 

If you would like to store your baby’s umbilical cord blood and you deliver at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla or Scripps Mercy San Diego, you may participate in a volunteer program through the San Diego Blood Bank, which will store your baby’s cord blood for possible use by patients in need of marrow transplants. Your decision to participate or not will have no impact on the standard or cost of care provided to you and your baby.