After the birth: your newborn baby's health checks

Immediately after your baby is born, healthcare professionals like your midwife will examine them and check that all is well. Your baby will get a newborn clinical examination within the first 3 days after birth.

Midwife examination

A midwife will examine your baby daily during your hospital stay. Your midwife will ask about your baby’s feeding patterns and their wet and dirty nappies. They will check your baby for jaundice and will observe the umbilical cord area.

Your midwife, nurse or care assistant will give you advice on caring for your baby. They will tell you about bathing and nappy changing. Your midwife can also help you start breastfeeding.

Newborn clinical examination

Your baby should get a full newborn clinical examination within 72 hours of birth. This is carried out by a doctor or specialist midwife.

If your baby was born in a hospital, the examination will usually happen before they go home. If you had a home birth provided by the HSE, your baby will be examined by your GP or at a maternity hospital.

Your baby will be examined from head to toe. This will not hurt your baby although it is normal for babies to cry. The idea of this examination is to spot any problems as early as possible so treatment can start.

The midwife or doctor may chat to you briefly about your pregnancy, the birth and any health problems you may have. They may also ask about health problems in your family and if you have any concerns about your baby.

Your baby’s eyes

A doctor or midwife will shine a light into your baby’s eyes. This is to detect cataracts. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye.

Your baby’s heart

A small medical device is placed on your baby’s foot to check oxygen levels. A stethoscope is used to listen to your baby's heart. The pulses in your baby’s legs will be checked.

This is all to check if your baby has a healthy heart.

Your baby’s hips

The doctor or midwife will gently bend your baby’s leg upwards and rotate their hips outwards. This test checks for dislocated hips.

Your baby may need an ultrasound of their hips at 6 weeks if:

  • they were breech (born bottom or legs first)
  • you or any of your family had childhood hip problems
  • there are any concerns about your baby's hips

Your baby’s testes

If your baby is a boy, their testicles will be checked to see if they are in the right place. The testicles are normally in the right place by six months. If not, surgery may be recommended.

Hearing test (newborn hearing screening)

Every baby is offered a newborn hearing screening test. For babies born in hospital, this is done before you leave. If your baby was born at home, your community midwife will organise a referral for hearing screening.

The hearing screening test doesn't hurt your baby. Every baby should have this test even if there is no family history of hearing loss. You can stay with your baby during the test.

The test involves a soft earpiece placed in your baby’s ear. A technician sends clicking noises through the earpiece. The equipment used to perform the test listens for echoes in your baby's inner ear.

You will get the results immediately. If the test detects any problems, a second hearing test will be done while your baby is sleeping.

See the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme's website for more information

Related Topic

Your child's hearing

Page last reviewed: 20 November 2018
Next review due: 20 November 2020