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Future Parents - When A Baby Breathes For The First Time

When a Newborn Catches the First Air, What Happens?

Future parents, when a baby breathes for the first time what really happens.

A variety of changes occur in the infant's lungs and circulatory system when the newborn takes his or her first breath: When there is more oxygen in the lung, blood flow velocity to the respiratory system reduces. Blood flow resistance in the baby's blood arteries rises as well.

  • A infant takes in its own oxygen for the first time within seconds of birth. In order for this to happen, their small lungs and circulatory system must undergo a transformation in a matter of seconds. So, how does a little human manage to take the most difficult breath of its life just seconds after birth? During pregnancy, the lungs do not give oxygen to the fetus.


The Baby is Getting Oxygen

  • According to the Texas Heart Institute, they are partially deflated and filled with fluids throughout development while the infant receives oxygen from the placenta via the umbilical cord. Because the lungs are not yet engaged in air supply, the bulk of the embryonic bloodstream bypasses the lung via two blood vessels that are specific to neonates.
  • According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the first, the foramen plasmodium, allows oxygenated blood from the umbilical cord to flow directly from the pulmonary artery to the left atrium, rather than through the right ventricle and lungs as it does in adults. According to the American Heart Association, the second channel, known as the ductus arteriosus, joins the main body artery and the major lung artery, allowing the fetus's oxygenated blood to divert away from the lungs and go towards the lower body.
  • In contrast to an adult heart, "when the infant comes out, the right side of the heart is the dominant side," according to Dr. Jae Kim, head of neonatology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. This is attributable to the fact it has been pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body through these backfilling bypasses. However, the cardiovascular system restructures after birth. According to a 2002 article published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, the left ventricle becomes dominant, responsible for circulating blood throughout the body, while the right ventricle takes on the new function of bringing oxygen-poor blood to the lungs.
  • This transition occurs in a sequence of fast alterations immediately following birth. First, after the infant is born, the organisms responsible for secreting fluid in the fetus's lungs begin absorbing fluid, eliminating the liquid to create way for incoming oxygen, according to Kim. "The lungs quickly begin to fill with air." According to him, the baby's first breath might be so powerful and dramatic that it can blast a breach in his or her fledgling lungs.

Increasing and Prolonging Spontaneous Breathing in Premature Babies During Transition

  • Most preterm newborns breathe on their own at birth, but due to the development of the lung and respiratory control mechanisms, they require supplemental breathing assistance. To minimize lung damage, the emphasis of respiratory support has changed away from invasive ventilation and toward non-invasive ventilation. However, due to mask leak and respiratory blockage, providing efficient non-invasive ventilation is challenging. The larynx has been neglected as a potential source of blockage, preventing face mask ventilation from filling the lung. At birth, the larynx is generally closed, only opening momentarily during a spontaneous breath.
  • Stimulating and sustaining spontaneous breathing might improve the effectiveness of non-invasive ventilation by keeping the larynx open. Maintaining adequate spontaneous breathing and therefore limiting the need for invasive ventilation is critical not just immediately after delivery, but also in the first hours after admission to the NICU. Respiratory distress syndrome is a major cause of respiratory failure. RDS therapy has always required intubation and mechanical breathing in order to inject exogenous surfactant.

Alteration in the neonatal at delivery refers to the physiological changes that occur in an infant's body as it adjusts to life outside the uterus.

  • While the infant is developing in the womb, the mother's placenta assists it in "breathing." The placenta's blood contains oxygen and carbon dioxide. The majority of it is absorbed by the heart and circulates throughout the baby's body.
  • The baby's lungs are full of fluid during delivery. They aren't inflated in any way. Within around 10 seconds of birth, the newborn takes his or her first breath. As the newborn's central nervous system reacts to the abrupt shift in temperature and surroundings, this breath sounds like a gasp.
  • A variety of changes occur in the infant's lungs and circulatory system when the newborn takes his or her first breath: When there is more oxygen in the lungs, blood flow resistance to the lungs decreases.
  • Blood flow resistance in the baby's blood arteries rises as well. The cardiovascular system drains or absorbs fluid. The lungs expand and begin operating on their own, transporting oxygen into the circulation and expelling carbon dioxide through breathing (exhalation).
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The Baby's Liver

  • The liver serves as a storage location for sugar (glycogen) and iron in the infant. When a baby is born, the liver performs several functions:
  • It generates chemicals that aid in blood clotting.
  • It starts breaking down waste items like extra red blood cells.
  • It generates a protein that aids in the breakdown of bilirubin. If melanin is not effectively broken up by the child's body, it can cause neonatal jaundice.

The Thermal Conditioning of the Infant's Body

  • A growing infant generates almost double the amount of heat as an adult. A little amount of heat is evacuated from the maturing infant through the skin, amniotic fluid, and uterine wall.
  • The baby's body generates heat by burning brown fat reserves, which are exclusively found in fetuses and newborns. Shivering is uncommon in newborns.
  • The infant begins to lose heat shortly after birth. Receptors on the baby's skin communicate to the brain that his or her body is chilly.

The Digestive System

The gastrointestinal system of a newborn does not fully develop until after birth. Mucus is a tarry green or black waste matter produced by the infant in late pregnancy.

  • Meconium is the medical word for the first excrement of a newborn. It is made up of amniotic fluid, mucus, lanugo (fine hair covering the baby's body), bile, and cells shed from the skin and digestive system. The infant may pass feces (meconium) while still within the uterus in certain situations.

The Immune System

  • The baby's immune system begins to grow and mature over the first several years of life. The womb is an almost antiseptic environment. However, as soon as the infant is born, he or she is exposed to a range of germs and other potentially pathogenic chemicals.
  • Although newborn newborns are more susceptible to illness, their immune systems are capable of combating pathogenic pathogens.
  • Newborns do inherit certain antibodies from their mothers, which protect them from illness. Breastfeeding also boosts a newborn's immunity.

The Urinary System

  • The kidneys of the developing child start generating urine between 9 and 12 weeks into the pregnancy. The infant will normally urinate during the first 24 hours of life after birth. The kidneys gain the ability to regulate fluid and electrolyte balance in the body.
  • After birth and throughout the first two weeks of life, the rate at which blood filters through the kidneys (glomerular filtration rate) increases dramatically. Even so, it takes some time for the kidneys to catch up.
  • In comparison to adults, newborns have a lower ability to eliminate excess salt (sodium) or to concentrate or dilute urine. This skill develops with time.

The Baby's Skin

The skin of a newborn may differ due to the length of the pregnancy. Premature newborns have skin that is sparse and translucent. A full-term newborn's epidermis is thicker. Newborn skin characteristics include:

  • Lanugo, a fine hair, may cover the newborn's skin, especially in premature newborns. The child's hair should fall out within the first several weeks of life.
  • Vernix, a thick, waxy material, may cover the skin. This material protects the developing baby when it is floating in amniotic fluid. Vernix should be washed away with the baby's first bath.
  • The skin may be cracked, peeling, or blotchy at first, but this should improve with time.


  1. 2021. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 October 2021].
  2. 2021. Blood Circulation in the Fetus and Newborn | Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 October 2021].
  3. 2021. AboutKidsHealth. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 October 2021].
  4. Encyclopedia, M. and birth, C., 2021. Changes in the newborn at birth: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 October 2021].
  5. 2021. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 October 2021].

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