What is Newborn care?
Neonatal care refers to that care given to the newborn infant from the time of delivery through about the first month of life. The term “neonate” is used for the newborn infant during this 28-30 day period.
When should Neonatal care be carried out?
Directly after birth, there should be attention to the condition of the newborn. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that such attention is an integral part of care in normal birth. Immediate care involves:
Drying the baby with warm towels or cloths, while being placed on the mother’s abdomen or in her arms. This mother-child skin-to-skin contact is important to maintain the baby’s temperature, encourage bonding and expose the baby to the mother’s skin bacteria.
Ensuring that the airway is clear, removing mucus and other material from the mouth, nose and throat with a suction pump.
Taking measures to maintain body temperature, to ensure no metabolic problems associated with exposure to the cold rise.
Clamping and cutting the umbilical cord with sterile instruments, thoroughly decontaminated by sterilisation. This is of utmost importance for the prevention of infections.
A few drops of silver nitrate solution or an antibiotic is usually placed into the eyes to prevent infection from any harmful organisms that the baby may have had contact with during delivery (e.g. maternal STDs ).
Vitamin K is also administered to prevent haemorrhagic disease of the newborn.
The baby’s overall condition is recorded at 1 minute and at 5 minutes after birth using the Apgar Scale.
Putting the baby to the breast as early as possible. Early suckling/breastfeeding should be encouraged, within the first hour after birth and of nipple stimulation by the baby may influence uterine contractions and postpartum blood loss but according to the WHO, this should be investigated.
About 6 hours or so after birth, the baby is bathed, but the vernix caseosa (whitish greasy material that covers most of the newborn’s skin) is tried to be preserved, as it helps protect against infection.