Chances are your baby will be born happy, healthy, and without complications. However, there are a few rather common complications to be aware of. It is important to know how these are handled so you can be more involved if one should occur with your baby.
Some babies will have breathing difficulties at birth. If your baby is born early or via cesarean section, she will be more likely to have these problems. Usually, the doctor or midwife can facilitate breathing by rubbing the baby's skin, possibly giving her oxygen. This can be done in any birth setting.
All practitioners are also trained to provide CPR on your newborn, if needed. Long-term ventilation and other breathing treatments may be available only at a Level II or III hospital setting. These measures are the least likely to be needed.
Once your water breaks, it may become apparent that your baby has passed his first bowel movement while still inside your body. This is called meconium staining. Meconium is seen in cases where the baby is overdue, stressed, or both. If your practitioner sees meconium, she is likely to listen to the baby more frequently during labor to ensure he is not stressed.
As your baby is born, he will be suctioned before he can breathe or scream. This is done to prevent him from inhaling the meconium. Because meconium is thick and tarlike, it can make it difficult for a newborn to expand his lungs. So, removing it prior to screaming or breathing is important.
In the case of meconium staining, you may have to wait a few minutes before your baby is handed to you. Someone may perform deeper suctioning once the baby is completely free of the birth canal, also to prevent inhalation of meconium. Some babies will still inhale the meconium despite all efforts to prevent this. If your baby does this, he may need further tests, including X rays. In some cases, a baby will also need to stay in the NICU. Your doctor will explain more about this, in the unlikely event that it becomes necessary.
Jaundice is the collection of bilirubin in the blood. This can be discovered through a blood test, but more likely it will be discovered because a baby has turned a shade of yellow. This usually doesn't happen until the first few days after birth.
The best way to get rid of the bilirubin is to encourage as much breastfeeding as possible. Breastmilk, particularly the colostrum it contains during the first few days, acts as a natural laxative, helping your baby to pass the bilirubin. Exposure to natural light through a window can also help.
Extreme cases of jaundice are rare. They are usually treated by breastfeeding and light therapy. Light therapy is usually done by using light blankets. A couple of days are all that is needed to clear up the condition.