Your stay at the hospital or birthing centre is a unique opportunity to get used to your baby and learn to take care of her. Make the most of it!
If you plan on driving home, a car seat is mandatory for your baby from the moment you leave the hospital or birthing centre (see Travelling safe: Car seats).
Photo: Dominique Belley
Hospital stays generally last 24 to 36 hours after vaginal delivery and 36 to 48 hours after a caesarean section. At birthing centres, the stay is usually about 24 hours. The length of your stay may vary depending on you and your baby’s health.
Most hospitals encourage parents to room-in with their newborn. This gives them more time to get to know their baby and get accustomed to taking care of her, with a nurse nearby if they need help or advice.
Rooming in also lets you feed your baby on demand. If you breastfeed, those first moments together are precious for getting your milk production going (see Ways to make breastfeeding easier).
If you have visitors, make sure that they’re not sick when they come to see you and that they don’t have any infections, such as a cold or a cold sore (oral herpes).
Many hospitals and birthing centres provide the opportunity to meet with a vaccination counsellor during your stay there. The counsellor’s role is to support you with your reflection process about vaccination for your child. If you aren’t given this opportunity, don’t hesitate to discuss any vaccination-related questions you may have with your health professional (see Vaccination).
During your stay you must also complete the paperwork required when there is a birth.
During your stay at the hospital or birthing centre, the nurses, doctors, or midwives will provide care to your baby to ensure her well-being and to prevent or screen for health problems.
If you have concerns or questions about the care provided to your newborn, feel free to talk to these health professionals.
In the hours following delivery, the care team will suggest giving your newborn a vitamin K shot to prevent bleeding. Newborn bleeding is rare but can be severe and even fatal.
They will also suggest that an antibiotic ointment be applied to your baby’s eyes to prevent certain serious infections.
During your stay at the hospital or birthing centre, a health professional will also give your newborn a thorough physical examination to make sure she is healthy and identify any potential issues.
Within a few days after birth, the staff will suggest that a blood screening be done. To do so, they will take a few drops of blood from your baby’s heel.
The purpose of screening is to detect rare diseases that are generally not apparent at birth, but can pose serious risks to a baby’s health. If a child has one of these diseases, treatment must begin as soon as possible, before symptoms appear. Early detection can help prevent or attenuate severe, permanent complications.
For most children, the screening results will be normal and the parents will not be contacted. No news is good news!
If the screening results are abnormal, you will be contacted and referred to a specialized centre for additional tests. If these analyses confirm a diagnosis, you will be offered appropriate monitoring and treatment for your child.
For more information on screening, visit the following websites: quebec.ca/sante/conseils-et-prevention/depistage-et-offre-de-tests-de-porteur/depistage-sanguin-et-urinaire-chez-les-nouveau-nes/ and chudequebec.ca/patient/maladies,-soins-et-services/m-informer-sur-les-soins-et-services/programme-quebecois-de-depistage-neonatal-sanguin.aspx (French only).