Much activity will happen within the first hour or two of your Newborn's life. It is good to know what tests and observations will be done during this time.
Some hospitals allow new parents to spend the first hour with their newborn, after initial assessment of the baby. Find out before your baby is born if this is an option as it is a wonderful first bonding opportunity. Babies that are going to be breastfed can also be put to the breast at this time.
Newborn screening tests look for serious developmental, genetic, and metabolic disorders so that treatment can be started during the critical time before any symptoms develop. Standard tests that are done for nearly all babies, including those born at home, include the following.
Newborn Weight and Length
Newborn weight and length are done routinely but when it is done does vary from place to place. Some hospitals will do this immediately and others will wait until the baby is in the nursery.
Newborn Eye Drops
Eye infections used to be a major cause of blindness in children, and were often due to the same bacteria that cause gonorrhea or chlamydia in women. When a woman is infected with these bacteria (symptoms are not always present in a woman)they're present in her vagina. As a baby travels through the birth canal, they are exposed to bacteria present in the mother's vaginal secretions or fluids.
Since eye infections used to be such a common cause of blindness, most states require antibiotic eye drops or ointments for newborns. Silver nitrate eye drops traditionally have been used to prevent eye infections. However, because these drops often cause the baby's eyes to be irritated, many hospitals now use erythromycin ointment instead. You can request that the eyedrops be administered after the first hour as the baby's vision will be blurry for a period afterwards.
APGARs are your baby's first test. This is something you will probably not notice being done as it is an evaluation of the way your baby looks and sounds. Basically it stands for Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, Respiration. A score is given for each of these signs at 1 minute and 5 minutes after birth. A score of 7-10 is considered normal, while 4-7 might require some resuscitative measures, and a baby with a score of 3 and below requires immediate resuscitation. Obviously, if a baby is in distress they won't be waiting for a 1 minute period to pass before assisting the baby.
Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a genetic disorder that all newborns are tested for. It is a routine test that all states require and the test involves sticking the foot of the baby to get blood for the test. Most hospitals require that the test be performed before the baby leaves the hospital and then ask that you have a follow up test in about a week. Primarily this is to ensure that all babies get tested, even though it is known that the test will not be completely accurate until a baby has been consuming either formula or breast milk for a period of 24 hours. Since some babies leave the hospital before breast milk comes in, the test should definitely be performed again at your pediatricians office or the hospital within 1 week of taking the baby home.
Other conditions are also tested for when the baby's blood is taken, as standard procedure, such as congenital hypothyroidism and Thalasemia, etc.
For a more thorough read on PKU, read Dr. Greene comments http://www.drgreene.com/21_691.html
Since babies aren't born with intact clotting factors, Vitamin K is often injected right after birth. This became common when forceps were used in the past to help prevent any head trauma. This is something to discuss with your personal pediatrician as it might be an unnecessary procedure that your newborn doesn't have to endure.
This vaccine is now mandatory in 36 states. It can be given at birth or at the two month check up. An assessment of your own risk of hepatitis will help you decide what your best option is for your own baby. If you are high risk you will certainly want to have this done while still in the hospital but talk to your practicioner to get all the facts and make a well-informed decision.
Depending on the hospital, other routine tests will be done on your newborn, including a Hearing test, Blood Sugar testing etc. Note that all states have specific guidelines for practitioners and laws do vary on some testing.