Hello stranger! Get to know your newborn
For the first few days of your baby’s life he is so new and unknown to you that you spend hours just staring at him. This is also when you may start to notice a few weird things, such as that he might have huge genitals, a mark on his forehead or crossed
WHY IS HE ALWAYS IN THE FOETAL POSITION?
Your new baby was curled up in this position for more or less forty weeks. Remember that things became extremely cramped inside your womb during the last few weeks of your pregnancy. Your baby is going to choose to lie in this position for quite some time after he is born. He will even ball his little hands into fists. Don’t try to straighten his body. As time goes on he is going to straighten his arms and legs and become used to the new world he finds himself in. By the end of his first month he’ll lift his head for a few seconds when you place him on his tummy. He could even turn his head from side to side. His movements will start to have a better flow.
WHY ARE THERE NO TEARS WHEN HE CRIES?
Babies can kick up a huge fuss without shedding a tear. This is as a result of tear ducts that are either clogged up or still developing. All babies produce tears within the first two months of their lives. If yours doesn’t, consult your doctor.
WHY DOES HE HAVE A WEIRD STOOL?
The first poo your baby passes will be greenish black. It will be thick, sticky and resemble tar. This is called meconium. Meconium is made up of all the materials your baby ingested during his time in the uterus. Subsequent poos will become lighter in colour and softer.
WHAT’S THE CREEPY STUFF ON HIS EYES?
A newborn’s eyes may have a bit of slime on them. Clean his eyes with breastmilk or sterile salt water on cotton wool (breastmilk has antibacterial properties that can clear up eye infections). Wipe his eyes from the inside corner all the way to the outside. Use a clean cotton swab for each eye. Consult your doctor if it does not clear up in a few weeks.
MY BABY IS CROSS-EYED!
Newborns cannot focus very well. It’s normal if your little prince seems a bit cross-eyed at first. By six months the problem should have corrected itself.
WILL THE BIRTHMARK ON HIS FOREHEAD STAY THERE?
Many babies are born with birthmarks. Red blemishes on their foreheads, eyelids and behind their necks are common. These marks are visible blood vessels close to the skin, but the mark usually disappears after a few months. Some birthmarks are permanent, but even these can be removed with special laser treatments.
HE HAS PIMPLES
Small pimples and other bumps on a newborn’s skin are completely normal. They usually stays visible for three months before they disappears. Do not try to pop or scratch them. It’s only your baby’s skin adjusting to his new environment.
CAN SUCKLING CAUSE BLISTERS?
Some babies develop a small blister on their top lip due to suckling. Even though it may be a bit sensitive when he drinks, there is not much you can do about it. It will heal by itself.
HIS GENITALS ARE HUGE!
The levels of pregnancy hormones that are produced and shed during birth can make your baby appear extra well endowed. Some girls’ vaginas could even bleed a little, while breasts can also appear bigger. Don’t worry about this. It will rectify automatically with time as hormone levels adjust.
HAIR ON HIS BACK AND SHOULDERS
Don’t worry, it does not mean that he will be a hairy baby for the rest of his life. He will shed this hair with time.
HE SCREAMS DURING BATH TIME
Even though he screams blue murder during bath time, this won’t last forever. Remember, in the first ten days you don’t even have to bath your baby. You only need to wipe him with a damp cloth. Concentrate on the spots behind his ears, his bum and his genital area.
SHOULD HIS BELLY BUTTON LOOK LIKE THAT?
You are likely to fret over your baby’s navel the most in the first few days. The umbilical cord stump should be cleaned during each nappy change, using surgical spirits. This will make the stump dry out. Use cotton wool or ear buds to make sure you clean the entire area. In the first six weeks blood could be present, but his navel should not bleed freely. For the first week and up to ten days of age his navel will be slightly damp with yellowish scabs. Consult your doctor if it smells bad. The stump should fall off between day eight and day ten.
WHY THE LONG NAILS?
Some full term babies, or those born after their expected due date, are born with long, sharp fingernails. Keep them short so that he does not scratch his face. Nails are easiest to cut with a pair of nail scissors while your baby is asleep.
HE’S LOSING WEIGHT
Don’t be alarmed when your newborn suddenly starts losing weight. Most babies are 10% lighter by the time they go home. This happens while your breastmilk is coming in. Most babies reach their birth weight again within a week of birth.
A baby’s head is big compared to the rest of his body. If a child was delivered with the help of a vacuum extractor, the head can appear pointy or strange. In time the shape and form of his head will return to normal. YB
A special thanks to Sister Jenny Froneman at the Baby Clinic in Fairland for her useful advice, input and insights. Extra source: Kid-wrangling by Kaz Cooke, Penguin Books.