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When a Baby Has Difficulty After Birth

Nov 30, 2008
Babies who may have difficulty at birth are those born prematurely, those who experienced a difficult delivery, maternal illness, or those with birth defects.

Nurse tending to a newborn in the hospital

All the 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 womb. Health checks, including the Apgar test performed 1 minute and 5 minutes after birth can help determine if a baby is doing well or having problems.

If there are signs the baby is not doing well, treatment can begin right away in the delivery room. The doctor and other members of the health care team work together to help the baby with any difficulties. For example, they may clear the baby's airways of fluid or mucus, give the baby oxygen, or help the baby breathe.

Newborn babies who may have difficulty at birth include those born prematurely, those who experienced a difficult delivery, and those with birth defects. Conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or an infection in the mother can also lead to problems after birth. 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 health care professionals to provide specialized care for the tiniest patients. NICUs may also have intermediate or continuing care areas for babies who are not as sick but need specialized nursing care. Some hospitals do not have trained personnel or a NICU and babies may need to be transferred to another hospital.

Having a sick baby is upsetting. Few parents expect complications with pregnancy or 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. And it helps to know that although separation from a baby is painful, it does not harm the relationship between the mother and baby.

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