5 Procedures to Consider for Your Newborn

baby newborn iStock 55720002 XLARGE
(Photo: iStock)

Between juggling responsibility, relationships and a beautiful new life on its way, pregnancy can be stressful. Not only do you have to research countless birthing options and prepare a nursery for junior, but you also have to think about decisions you will make in that golden hour of their new life.

To help you make the best decision with your partner, it’s a good idea to study every procedure and open up a dialogue with your OB-GYN to understand each procedure’s impact. Keep in mind, your first responsibility is to the welfare of your child and not what’s trending or what others have told you.

Suctioning
Frequently accomplished with a bulb syringe or suction catheter when the head first emerges on the perineum, this routine procedure helps baby to breathe better as a stuffy nose can make them fussy and create complications for eating and sleeping. It doesn’t sound fun, but suctioning helps remove mucus found in the mouth and nose, or meconium — a dark fluid composed of substances ingested during time in utero.

While such a procedure can be delayed until full birth since your baby is still receiving oxygen via the placenta, John Hopkins University suggests babies born by cesarean might have more trouble clearing that lung fluid and mucus, so deeper suctioning of the windpipe might be required.

Delayed Cord Clamping
The most critical decision you can make is with regards to cord clamping — whether immediate or delayed. The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists has said for years to cut umbilical cords almost immediately within 15 to 20 seconds after birth, but a new report from CNN says the World Health Organization recommends delaying clamping by cutting it one to three minutes later. Numerous studies from WHO have shown positive effects of delayed clamping, which is defined as waiting until the cord has stopped pulsating, including an improvement in maternal and infant health, and progressive nutritional outcomes.

Vitamin K Injections
All babies are born with lower levels of vitamin K, an important element that supports their body’s ability to clot blood and prevent hemorrhages. According to Oregon Health & Science University, vitamin K shots are administered after a delivery to prevent a specific type of hemorrhagic disease known as “Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding” (VKDB). While it’s a rare occurrence for babies to experience bleeding of the brain, VKDB ranges from bruises of the skin to bleeding that can occur from birth to months later.

After a cluster of cases for late bleeding were reported in healthy newborns during six to 15 weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention informed the public of how important it was to consider vitamin K shots. While declining the procedure is an emerging trend among parents, Director of the CDC, Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., suggests giving vitamin K injections at birth is a critical component to protecting infant health.

Eye Drops
While not necessary for all newborns, a procedure you might want to consider is antibiotic eye drops to reduce the risk of blindness or infection they may have contracted during delivery. Eye drops don’t harm newborns, but they may sting and blur vision for a bit. However, it’s especially important to consider them if you have an existing STD while pregnant. Since certain sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea have no symptoms, even pregnant women who test negative may get an infection by the time of delivery. Early dismissal could lead to an eye infection that could turn into blindness if not treated.

Screening Test
At 24 hours of age, a nurse or doctor will screen your baby for rare genetic disorders in an assessment commonly known as the “heel prick test,” which collects drops of blood for further testing. This test can’t be done any sooner as your newborn needs a diet rich in phenylalanine, found in both human milk and artificial formulas for a full, monitored day. Early detections of any complication not only means fast treatment, but also ensures the best way to manage and prevent developmental delays.

Today, all 50 states screen newborns for conditions like hypothyroidism, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, autoimmune diseases and phenylketonuria (PKU), a disorder that effects a baby’s ability to process certain foods that contain phenylalanine.