The First Hour After Birth

The First Hour After Birth

Do you know what happens the first hour after birth? What should your baby be doing? How should she be acting? Your baby will go through several stages after birth. These are the normal stages if you place your baby in kangaroo care. If you don’t, all bets are off. Let’s discuss them!

Stage 1: The Birth Cry

Immediately after birth your baby will start to cry. This is a normal and healthy response. Your baby is clearing out her airways from all the goop that was in them from the womb. Despite common belief, we don’t hang babies upside down or smack them on the butt to get them breathing. They do it on their own by crying.

Stage 2: Relaxation

first hour after birth relaxation
By: Donnie Ray Jones

After about 1-2 minutes, your baby may calm down. You baby is breathing and free of the womb. She will start to calm down a bit after realizing she is okay.

Stage 3: Awakening

The awakening occurs about 3-4 minutes after birth. You baby realizes she is somewhere else and she is alive. Imagine this from your baby’s point of view – she has never been outside the womb. She was always comfortably floating, always being fed, never had to breathe. Suddenly she is thrust into a bright, strange, heavy place where she has to do all this work. She will be shocked…after the initial shock she can relax then become aware.

Stage 4: Activity

After about 8 minutes, you baby might become active. She is aware and conscious now. She starts to fidget. Exploring her new found environment. She might kick, squirm, and try to lick everything. She might just look around a lot.

Stage 5: Rest

At any point after the initial stages, she might rest. She has been through an exhausting and strange experience. She will need a break of just calmness.

Stage 6: Crawling

First hour after birth crawling
By: Dagny Mol

After approximately 35 minutes, you baby might start to “crawl.” This isn’t crawling in the traditional sense. But she will kind of scoot around, exploring momma’s chest a bit. She is probably looking for the nipple to suckle. Aren’t we all?

Stage 7: Familiarization

Around 45 minutes after birth, you baby will start to familiarize herself with mom. She will sniff, grab, scoot around, and lick momma. She is getting used to her smells, tastes, and feeling. This might go on for a good 20 minutes or more.

Stage 8: Suckling

first hour after birth Suckling
By: danrandom

Around 60 minutes after birth, the baby may start to suckle. She is looking for a nipple to start feeding. This is an instinct reaction. She may not actually latch or take any milk, but it is good practice for the baby. Gently, help her find the nipple and see if she takes it. Do not force her if she doesn’t take it automatically.

Stage 9: Sleep

Eventually, you baby will become exhausted from all these new stimulants. She will start to sleep between 1.5 and 2 hours after the birth. Hold her and let her relax and sleep in your arms or on your chest. Dad, you can take over skin to skin duties if mom needs a break.

So that is what happens to a “normal” baby the first hour after birth. Keep in mind this is just a general guideline. All babies are different and will behave differently. My baby didn’t really go through these stages. She started crying as soon as her head popped out and didn’t stop for 2 hours. Then she went right to sleep. She scooted around a bit and licked my wife, but she never stopped crying.

How did you baby act the first hour after birth? Did she follow these stages? Did she cry a lot? Tell us below!

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