Healthy babies born by vaginal delivery are usually able to stay with the mother. In many cases, immediate newborn assessments including weight and length, medication administration, and even the first bath, are done right in the mother's room. As quickly as possible, a new baby is placed in the mother's arms.
In the first hour or two after birth, most babies are in an alert, wide awake phase. This offers a wonderful opportunity for parents to get to know their new baby. A baby will often turn to the familiar sound of the mother's voice. A baby's focus of vision is best at about 8 to 12 inches--just the distance from baby cradled in a mother's arms to her face.
This is also the best time to begin breastfeeding. Babies have an innate ability to begin nursing immediately after they are born. Although some medications and anesthesia given to the mother during labor and delivery may affect the baby's sucking ability, most healthy babies are able to breastfeed in these first few hours. This initial feeding helps stimulate breast milk production. It also causes contractions of the mother's uterus, which help prevent excessive bleeding.