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Narrator: An hour after being born by c-section and bonding with his beaming parents, baby Francis is leaving his mother's arms in the recovery room to head off on his first solo adventure: a visit to the hospital nursery.
Francis is placed in a heated isolette for his big trip to the maternity floor.
Today, most babies born in hospitals will spend an hour and a half or more in the nursery, although some hospitals do offer nursery-level care at your bedside.
The nursery isn't just for baby gazing. It's where your newborn is stabilized and warmed, and where he undergoes a thorough medical examination -- by both a nursery nurse and a pediatrician. Your baby's temperature is constantly tracked by a heart-shaped thermometer.
In the first hours of life, your baby's body takes heat away from his feet and hands so it can supply warm blood to the heart, lungs, brain, and intestines.
For this reason, newborns are closely monitored for the first 12 hours of life. The ticket out of the nursery comes when your baby can maintain a 98 degree temperature on his own.
Francis has one degree to go.
Doctor: One of the most important things a nurse does after the baby is born is make sure that the baby doesn't get hypoglycemic.
Narrator: It's not uncommon for newborns to have a drop in blood sugar levels. Francis's blood is drawn from his ink-stained feet, and his glucose level checks out fine. As Francis warms up, his nurse, Nancy Bowman, conducts her own head-to-toe examination, including:
A careful visual inspection of each and every body part for abnormalities and broken bones.
A close look at his head to check the fontanels -- normal soft spots where the skull hasn't fused yet.
She'll check his mouth for a cleft palate, early teeth, and the ability to suck, as well as his ability to grasp, called the palmar reflex.
Nurse Nancy Bowman: Going down to the genitalia, you want to make sure that the penis is nice and straight, and you want to look for the meatal opening, so that he's peeing right out of the tip of his penis. And looking for his testes, that they're descended into the scrotum, and they are both there.
Narrator: It's typical for newborns to have swollen genitals or breasts since the mother's hormones transfer to the baby. Baby girls will often have a white or slightly bloody vaginal discharge over the next weeks.
Nurse: Checking his hips. They don't usually like this part of the exam.
Narrator: Hip alignment is checked out.
Nurse: His spine is nice and straight; there's no holes there at all. And if you look at the creases here, they are all equal. If there was any problems with his hips, too, the creases are unequal.
Narrator: All the dry, flaky skin and wrinkles on Francis's feet are normal too. These are signs that he is a full-term baby.
Nurse: Now he is going to get a shot of vitamin K that is given to all babies on admission, which helps their blood coagulation.
Narrator: Francis will be poked a few more times before leaving the hospital.
It can be hard as a new parent to see your baby poked so many times, but Nancy Bowman, who has worked in the nursery for 38 years, says it's only done for your baby's benefit.
All states require at least some newborn testing, like screening for PKU, sickle cell anemia, and other inherited conditions. Many states also test your newborn's hearing. And there's one immunization that your baby should have at birth -- a shot for hepatitis B.
In an hour, Francis's temperature has reached 98 degrees, so he's ready for a sponge bath.
Nurse: Okay. Mommy and Daddy want you clean!
His temperature is 98.6 now, so we're taking him off the warmer.
Narrator: Francis is diapered, swaddled in two blankets, and is now in the home stretch.
Nurse: Now he is all ready to go out to his family whenever they are ready for him.
Narrator: Francis checks out of the nursery as a perfectly normal baby. He is clean, medically stable, and back in his mother's arms.