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Linda Murray: After birth, the doctors and nurses will check your baby’s health and give him some tests and treatments. They’re all routine and considered important by health experts. All 50 states require screening tests for various conditions, like metabolic disorders and cystic fibrosis, though not all states test for the same things.
Most babies pass these tests with flying colors. But if something is wrong, it’s important to catch it early so your baby can be treated before any lasting harm is done.
To do the tests, a nurse will prick your baby’s heel with a needle to collect a blood sample, and may do a simple check of his hearing. The tests cause little discomfort and babies often sleep right through them. If you’re concerned about any of the tests, bring it up with your caregiver.
Shortly after birth, your baby will have an antibiotic ointment put in his eyes to prevent infection, and an injection of vitamin K to help his blood clot. He may also get a vaccine to protect him against hepatitis B, a virus that could lead to liver damage and even death. The antibiotic eye ointment is usually given within an hour of birth, but you can ask your caregiver to wait a little longer if you’re breastfeeding or just want some cuddle time. The same goes for the shots. You can ask to have them given at a later time if you’re in the middle of bonding. If you have concerns about these routine procedures research them ahead of time.