You and your baby should stay in hospital for at least 24 hours after the birth. This is so your healthcare team can check that the baby has stable glucose levels and is feeding well.
Skin-to-skin (also known as kangaroo care)
Skin-to-skin means having your baby on you, their naked skin next to yours with a blanket over both of you for warmth. You should be able to do this straight after the baby has been born, even if you have had a caesarean section, unless there is a medical reason why it’s not possible (you can put it in your birth plan). If you can’t hold your baby, your birth partner can.
There are lots of benefits to having skin-to-skin contact with your baby. It can:
Skin-to-skin in NICU
Your baby may need extra care in the neonatal unit if:
- they are unwell
- need close monitoring or treatment
- they need to be fed through a tube or drip
- they are premature.
If this is the case, ask your midwife about trying some skin-to-skin contact. It has lots of immediate and long-term benefits for premature and low birthweight babies, such as:
- reduced hospital stays
- improved physical growth and development
- improved social development
- improved breastfeeding.
It’s completely natural to feel disappointed or upset if you’re not able to do skin-to-skin contact as soon as your baby is born. But you can start and carry on doing skin-to-skin in the days, weeks and months to come.
Find out more about bonding with your baby.
Feeding your baby
You should start feeding your baby as soon as possible after birth (within 30 minutes), and then every 2 to 3 hours, to help their glucose stay at a safe level.
If you were able to collect colostrum in the third trimester this can be used to help stabilise your baby's glucose levels.
“My baby was slightly hypo for the first 24 hours because my blood-sugar had been a little high during labour. Thankfully I'd been able to express colostrum in the weeks leading up to the birth so didn't need to give him much formula to get his levels back up again.”
Find out more about feeding your baby after birth with type 1 or 2 diabetes.
Testing your baby’s glucose levels
The healthcare team should test your baby’s glucose level 2 to 4 hours after birth. This is to make sure it isn’t too low. They will do this by pricking the baby’s heel to get a drop of blood for testing.
Your baby may need to be fed through a tube or given a drip if:
- their glucose level is low
- they are having difficulty feeding.
Jaundice is a common and usually harmless condition in newborn babies that causes yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. Jaundice is caused by the build-up of bilirubin in the blood.
Jaundice is common in newborn babies and especially in babies of mothers with diabetes. Your baby may need to be monitored in the neonatal unit.
The NHS has more information about newborn jaundice.
Your healthcare team will watch your baby breathing after they are born. Your baby may need to be monitored in the neonatal unit. Breathing difficulties can range from a few hours to a few days.
Checking your baby for heart problems
If your healthcare team thinks there are any problems with your baby’s heart, a child specialist will check your baby carefully. This may include a scan of the baby’s heart.
Your baby’s time in hospital
If your baby is in the baby unit, you and the healthcare team can work together to make sure that your baby gets the comfort and support that they need.
Remember that you can ask the healthcare team questions if you have any queries or concerns about your baby’s care, or if anything isn’t not clear to you. The team will be used to supporting families in your situation.