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The First Days

While You're in the Hospital

You will most likely spend one to three nights in the hospital after giving birth, and this gives you lots of time to learn about your new baby’s care and ask questions. Before discharge home, make sure you feel comfortable with these newborn care basics:

  • Handling a newborn, including supporting baby’s neck
  • Changing baby’s diaper
  • Bathing your baby
  • Dressing your baby
  • Swaddling your baby
  • Feeding and burping your baby
  • Cleaning the umbilical cord
  • Caring for a healing circumcision
  • Using a bulb syringe to clear baby’s nose and mouth
  • Taking baby’s temperature
  • How to comfort your baby (singing, rocking, swaddling, etc.)
  • Bilicheck (for bilirubin level)
    Your baby will have a non-invasive test for the level of bilirubin (the substance that causes jaundice) at 24 hours of age. You will be given the results of the test at that time. For more information, visit:
  • Pulse oximetry screening for CCHDs (critical congenital heart diseases)
    This non-invasive test is performed after baby is 24 hours old, and requires placing a sensor around baby’s right hand and either foot, and measuring the amount of oxygen in the baby’s blood. Results of this test are immediate and can be given to you. Read the PDF for more information.
  • Newborn metabolic screening
    All 50 states and Puerto Rico screen newborns for phenylketonuria (PKU), hypothyroidism, galactosemia, and sickle cell disease. Here in North Carolina, we screen for 37 different diseases.  This test will be performed on your newborn after 24 hours of age by pricking your baby’s heel and sending a blood sample to our state laboratory. Your pediatrician can give you the results of this test within a few weeks.  For more information, and to see what is tested for, visit:
  • Hearing test
    All newborns need a hearing screening because hearing loss can be hard to detect in babies and young children. Your baby’s hearing will be screened before leaving the hospital and you will receive the results. When found early, children can get the services they need at an early age. For more information, visit: