In general, you can expect to be able to hold your baby very soon after birth. In fact, it is routine practice in many hospitals and birthing centers for you to hold your baby right away. Skin-to-skin contact right after birth will help to keep your baby warm, and it can help with bonding as well.
Often, if you have your birth vaginally, your baby will be placed right onto your belly and dried off right there. The health care provider or nurse may cover your baby with a blanket or a warm towel, and put a cap on his head to keep him from loosing heat.
Your health care provider will be observing your baby to make sure that there are no problems. Sometime around one to five minutes after birth, your baby will be given what is called an Apgar test or assessment. An Apgar test will check your baby’s reflex, response, muscle tone, breathing, color, and heart rate. In general, it may be possible for your health care provider to do the Apgar tests while your baby is still on your belly.
In some cases, your baby may need extra observation or even to be resuscitated. If this occurs, your baby will probably be dried off and immediately put on a warmer. The warmer will keep him warm while your health care provider and other medical personnel can get to your baby, and do whatever it is that needs to be done for her to be OK. Once she is stable and the Apgar tests are done, along with whatever other procedures might be necessary, she will be placed in a warm blanket and brought so that you can hold her then.
If you have a cesarean section, it will probably be longer before you are able to hold your baby. Your baby may be brought to your partner, for him to hold while your incision is being closed. Your partner may be able to hold your baby near your face so that you can make eye contact, and even kiss your new baby. You generally won’t be able to hold your baby until later on, in the recover room.