6.1  Your first actions before assessing a newborn

Before you start assessing a newborn baby, take off any rings, bracelets or other jewellery, and wash your hands thoroughly with clean water and soap for at least two minutes. This is one of the most important infection prevention actions you can do. Make sure you take your own soap and a clean towel to every postnatal visit, and follow the instructions in Figure 6.1.

The steps in doing a thorough hand wash.
Figure 6.1  How to do a thorough hand wash before a postnatal assessment.

You should also show the mother how to wash her hands thoroughly and remind her to do it before she breastfeeds, dresses or undresses the baby, washes or bathes it, after changing its diaper and disposing of the waste, after she has changed her own pads to catch the bloody vaginal discharge, after using the latrine, and before or after preparing food.

While you are washing your hands, ask the mother to start breastfeeding. (We will teach you the details of correct breastfeeding in the next study session). This will help you to check if there is any problem in breastfeeding and it helps to keep the baby calm during the assessment period. If the baby cries while you are assessing him or her it may give you inaccurate results for the assessment findings. Therefore, always try to keep babies calm while assessing them.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 6

6.2  Screening the newborn for general danger signs