When a Baby Has Difficulty After Birth
All of a baby's body systems must work together in a new way after birth. Sometimes
a baby has a hard time adjusting to life outside the mother’s body. Health checks
can help determine if a baby is doing well or having problems. These include the Apgar
test, done 1 minute and 5 minutes after birth.
If there are signs the baby isn’t doing well, treatment can begin right away in the
delivery room. The members of the healthcare team work together to help the baby with
any difficulties. For example, they may:
Newborn babies who may have trouble at birth include those:
Who are born early (premature)
Who had a difficult delivery
Who have birth defects
Who have a mother with a health condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or
Fortunately for these babies, special care is available. Newborn babies who need intensive
medical attention are often admitted into a special area of the hospital called the
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The NICU combines advanced technology and trained
healthcare professionals to provide specialized care for the tiniest patients. NICUs
may also have intermediate or continuing care areas. These are for babies who are
not as sick but need specialized nursing care. Some hospitals don’t have trained staff
or a NICU. In that case, babies may need to be moved to another hospital.
Having a sick baby is upsetting. Most parents don’t expect to have problems with pregnancy.
They don’t expect their baby to be sick or premature. It is quite natural for parents
to have many different emotions as they try to cope with the difficulties of a sick
baby. But it is reassuring that today's advanced technology is helping sick babies
get better and go home sooner than ever before. Being separated from your baby when
he or she is in the NICU is painful. But it helps to know that it doesn’t have to
harm the relationship between you and your baby. Most NICUs today pay special attention
to supporting this relationship.