Stethoskop und BabyWhy did my baby need observations after their birth?

Circumstances related to your pregnancy and/or events around your baby’s birth can mean that the midwives and paediatricians will want to keep a closer eye on your baby during the first 24 hours post birth. These circumstances and events might include the following:

  • Prolonged rupture of the membranes (the waters broke more than 24 hrs before your labour began)
  • Maternal high temperature (pyrexia)
  • Maternal infection (eg Group B Streptococcus – GBS)
  • Meconium-stained liquor
  • Small babies  (babies born prematurely, or born at a low birth weight)
  • Large babies (eg babies of insulin-dependent diabetic mothers)
  • Babies who required resuscitation at birth
  • Babies whose mothers were given specific drugs that can cause babies to drop their blood sugar (glucose) levels; this is called hypoglycaemia. Specific medications that have this effect include Labetalol and Terbutaline
  • Babies exposed to substances during pregnancy eg cigarette smoking (associated with small babies and premature birth); medically prescribed drugs for existing maternal health problems; non-recreational drugs (cocaine, heroin, methadone) and alcohol dependency.

The midwives will perform regular (two or four hourly) observations of your baby’s heart rate (pulse), respiratory rate (breathing), skin colour, body temperature, and bowel and bladder activity. Your baby may also need to have a heel prick to measure their blood glucose levels. These observations will be recorded on a special chart which helps alert staff to any concerns regarding the baby’s health and well-being. Where it is felt the baby needs to be monitored more closely, they may be transferred to a transitional care unit, special care baby unit (SCBU), or neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). For further information read our article ‘Your baby needs transitional care’.