Pregnancy week by week

Baby

Toddler

Meet your newborn


                                       
 
  Congratulations on the birth of your baby!  

The arrival of a new baby is always an exciting event, but it is an exhausting one too. Some days you will be full with joy, others falling over by tiredness. Also, there is so much to learn, especially if you are a first time parent: feeding, nappy changing, bathing, how to establish a good sleep routine plus lots more. 
 

                                          Your baby’s appearance

Every newborn is beautiful and unique. Your baby has just come through the complicated process of birth, and may show signs of it. Don’t be surprised, if your baby doesn’t look like the soft, clean, chubby babies you see in magazines or television commercials. Your baby may have lumps on his/her head, puffy eyes, a flat nose, patchy dry skin. But you will still think he/she is the most beautiful baby in the world! Here is what you can expect to see in a normal newborn’s appearance:
 
First cry

Hearing your baby cry is actually a good sign. Crying helps get rid of any excess fluid that may still be in his lungs, nose or mouth. For this reason, doctors stimulate the baby and encourage them to cry.

Skin

Your baby’s skin may still be covered in vernix. This is a creamy white substance that coated his skin while he was inside you. It's function was to protect your baby’s skin inside when he was surrounded by the amniotic fluid. Your baby’s skin colour can vary greatly from a pink, white or yellowish tone to deep red (when he is crying). His skin may be spotty, patchy, discoloured or peeling; all normal for a newborn. In addition, his hands and feet may be cool and white.

Head

New born babies rarely have nice round, perfectly shaped heads. Some babies have round heads, some have elongated heads, and some have pointed head. This is due to “moulding”, where the skull bones overlap slightly during the journey down the birth canal. Usually the head will return to its normal shape by the end of first week. Moulding is not usually present after a caesarean or breech delivery. This happens because the bones of your baby’s skull have not yet grown together.

You may notice two “soft spots” on your baby’s head, where you can sometimes see a pulse beneath the skin; they are called fontanels. There are two of them, one on the top of the head and other one a little farther back. These areas allow the skull to compress during labour and give room for your baby’s head to grow during the early years of life. They will close as your baby grows. The triangular shaped fontanel at the back will close around six weeks. The larger, diamond shaped one in the front will normally close by 18 months.

There can also be a soft swelling on the baby’s scalp. This is called a “caput’. It occurs as a result of the top of the baby’s head being pressed against the mother’s cervix throughout labour and delivery. The swelling usually disappear within the first few days of life. 
 

The umbilical cord  

The cord after it is clamped and cut will appear as a blue-white stump still attached to your baby’s tummy. It will shrivel up and drop off after about a week. 
 

The genitals
 
Babies of both sexes may have slightly swollen breasts and genitals. This is due to the effect of your hormones still at work in the baby’s body, which will soon wear off. Occasionally a baby boy will have an undescended testicle, which will be checked and monitored. It will usually descend later, but if not, a small surgery may be needed. It is quite common for some baby girls to have slight vaginal bleeding within the first few days. This is caused by your high hormones levels at birth. Any swelling usually disappears within a few days.
 

The hair
 
You may be surprised to find your baby has a thick shock of hair or none at all. Either is normal.
 

Birthmarks  
  • Brown marks- sometimes dark, sometimes pale, about one in ten babies have a mark like this. They may not fade, but are harmless and need no treatment.
     
  • Mongolian spots (dermal melanosis): these are blue black areas that are most commonly located on the lower back or buttocks. They may occasionally be on the shoulders, legs, or thighs. They are common in dark- skinned babies and fade slowly over the first few years. Occasionally, they can be like other “birthmarks” and last throughout life.
     
  • Stork bite (nevus simplex): they are small, flat pink salmon patches often present on the upper eyelids, forehead, upper lip and back of the neck. These marks are caused by blood vessels that are close to the surface of the skin. The patches on the face disappear a few weeks after birth but the ones on the neck may persist. As hair grows, they are generally covered and are no longer noticeable.
     
  • Bright red marks with clear edges called strawberry birthmarks- may get bigger over the first six months then gradually decrease in size, usually disappearing by six years. They only need treatment if they are near your baby’s eyes or where they might cause discomfort.
     
  • Deep purple marks (port wine stains) - often on the face, these marks are permanent. While they are harmless, they can be upsetting. Modern techniques in laser therapy can have excellent cosmetic results.

                                         Baby’s first check-up 

During the first 24 hours or so following birth, one of the neonatal doctors will perform an examination of your baby. This head to toe examination is to check for any obvious problems. It is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you have regarding your baby. 

Your baby will be weighed, measured and checked at birth by the nurse. The doctor will examine your baby’s skin and fontanels. He will examine baby's eyes, ears, nose, mouth and neck. He will listen to his heart and breathing. He will examine baby's tummy to check that internal organs feel normal. He will check baby's genitals and spine. He will examine baby's hips to make sure the joints are secure and not colicky as few babies have dislocation of the hips. Babies born by breech delivery are more at risk. Most new babies lose some weight in the first few days. They are back to their birth weight within two weeks, and then put on weight steadily.     
                                
                                                        Vitamin K  
 
Vitamin K is given to babies just after birth to prevent a rare bleeding disorder of newborns called the “Haemorrhagic disease of the newborn” or “Vitamin K deficiency bleeding”. Although this is rare, it can be dangerous, causing bleeding into the brain. The liver needs Vitamin K to make several proteins that are essential for clotting of the blood. At birth all newborn babies have low levels of Vitamin K in the blood and these levels can get used up very quickly in the first few days of life. This can leave the baby vulnerable to severe bleeding. Your baby will receive a shot of vitamin k immediately after he is born. It will be given as a single injection. Giving extra vitamin K ensures that levels of this substance are raised for the first few weeks of life. 

                                                           Skin-to-skin 

                        

After the birth you will probably be allowed some quiet time just to hold and cuddle your new arrival. A good way to do this is to hold your baby so that his skin is next to your skin. While next to your skin make sure he is covered with a sheet to prevent him losing heat. Even if you have had a caesarean, you should still be able to have skin-to-skin contact soon after the birth.

For the first hour or so after birth, babies are usually awake and alert and keeping your baby in skin-to-skin contact allows you to take advantage of this precious time to get to know each other. During this time you will probably notice your baby turning towards your breast and this is a good time to start the first feed. Skin-to-skin is a wonderful experience for both of you, not just immediately after birth but also in the weeks and months that follow.  Holding your baby close is a really important part of getting to know each other. It also keeps your baby warm and helps regulate his temperature, heart rate and breathing. Ideally this bonding should:
  • Take place within 30 minutes of the birth
  • Be in a calm, relaxed and unhurried environment
  • Be for as long as you like
  • If you have had a caesarean section or cannot hold your baby at first, ask the nurse to help you hold your baby when you feel ready.

Newborn baby in the first few hours after delivery 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 



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