In most cases, newborn babies stay with their mothers during the entire hospital stay. They are seen every day by the newborn healthcare team, which includes an attending physician, nurse practitioner, or a resident physician. They will examine your baby and talk to you about all the things you and your baby are learning to do.
We encourage all mothers to keep their babies close to them, especially if they're breastfeeding. We actively encourage every mother to breastfeed her baby and are nationally known for our breastfeeding support.
If your baby is premature or needs specialized care, our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is the region's leader in caring for infants with serious illnesses.
Read more about how we support you in caring for your newborn below.
There are many benefits to keeping babies close together with their mothers. We encourage you to hold your newborn baby naked (except for a diaper) on your own skin, with a blanket covering you both, during your awake and alert times. Babies who are frequently held "skin to skin" are:
- More likely to latch onto the breast and to breastfeed easily
- Have more stable and normal skin temperatures, heart rates, and blood pressure
- Have better blood sugars
- Are less likely to cry
We very much encourage all mothers to breastfeed their infants. Part of ensuring success is to avoid giving formula, bottles or pacifiers to healthy newborns. If there is a medical reason to give the baby a supplement, we will discuss options with you. For more information about breastfeeding support, see Lactation Service.
Delayed First Bath
A creamy, protective substance called vernix is present on the skin of many newborn babies. We often give a first shampoo, but intentionally do not bathe babies in their first few days because leaving this substance to absorb into your baby's skin helps protect against dryness and bacterial infections.
Vitamin K and Erythromycin Eye Ointment
Your baby will typically receive a Vitamin K injection and an antibiotic eye ointment shortly after birth. Vitamin K protects against rare but serious bleeding problems, and erythromycin prevents bacterial infections that can be present in the birth canal.
If you wish, you can delay these by an hour or so to keep your baby skin to skin. Because the Vitamin K protects the baby from bleeding problems in the first 24 hours, it's best to give it as early as possible (within an hour after birth). For more information, see our Vitamin K Fact Sheet.
California state law requires that all babies have a blood sample drawn to test for some rare disorders that are not immediately apparent after delivery. Screening identifies most of the babies born with these disorders, so treatment can start right away. A heel prick is used to take a few drops of the baby's blood and send it for testing.
California also offers a newborn hearing screening to help identify hearing loss in babies and get them earlier services. The screening takes only a few minutes while the baby sleeps. We play soft sounds through earphones made specifically for babies, and measure the response to the sounds.
Your baby will stay with you during these screenings. If your baby requires any additional testing in another area of the hospital, you or a family member are always welcome to go along.
Discharge and Follow-Up Care
The average hospital stay is one to two days for a vaginal delivery, or four days for cesarean delivery. With arrangements for follow-up care and good support at home, you may be discharged 24 hours after birth, but usually no sooner. Before you leave, we'll ask your support person to bring your baby's carseat to your room.
The newborn health team will communicate with your baby’s medical provider and help you arrange for infant care after discharge. On the day you go home, you'll receive written discharge instructions for making follow-up appointments for you and your baby. Most babies are seen within 48 hours of discharge.
We prefer to discharge patients by 11 a.m. when possible.