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Well, here we are! You did it! You’re a mom!!!
You know, newborns are wonderful! They are full of personality! You may not notice it right away, but it’s there and when that little one is at home, even in just a few days, you’ll know more about that little person than anyone!
You will be able to distingush hungry cries from fussy ones, to content ones. Their unique personality will unfold before your eyes. They will change daily! So have your camera ready! And remember, YOU know best!
Sure, some lack of confidence and anxiety as a new parent will be present, but that is very, very normal! I remember dreams I had of giving birth to a dinosaur! Pure anxiety seeping from my unconscious mind – at its best, and my son is now 15!
So, relax. Take one day at a time. But, let’s look at some physical characteristics your newborn will display at first sight and later when the nursery nurse brings your baby to your room.
At the time of birth, your baby will be covered with amniotic fluid and some blood. The baby will also be covered with a white – creamy looking substance, called vernix ( which protects the baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid in the uterus). Some babies are born with more vernix than others. If your baby was born with a lot of vernix they’ll look almost white and you’ll see most of it in the creases/folds in the arms, legs, groin, and neck. Usually, the more vernix the earlier the gestational age, and the less vexnix the closer to term.
Depending on the birth “route”, vaginal or by Cesarean, baby’s head may look a little “funny”. Vaginal births tend to cause “molding” or a “cone: shaped head caused by the plates of the skull overlapping to fit and move down the vaginal (birth canal . A Cesarean birth will cause baby’s head to be smooth and round in appearance.
Baby’s color is often grayish with a slight blue hue in the hands and feet. This is normal. When baby starts to cry vigorously they’ll pink right up because of all the oxygen they’re getting! As the oxygenated blood circulates in baby, within minutes their color changes to pink. Sometimes the nurse will pass tiny wisps of oxygen under the baby’s nose and mouth, and this will also help baby to turn pink.
Certainly, at the time of birth you’ll be encouraged (at most hospitals) to begin breastfeeding and do “skin-to-skin” with your newborn. After a vaginal birth this is encouraged immediately. With a Cesarean, you’ll have to wait until you’re in the recovery room to initiate breastfeeding and “skin-to-skin”.
The Apgar Score will be done by a nurse, midwife, or your doctor. Eventually, after initial adequate bonding time has been experienced, the nurse ( if you are in a hospital ) will take the baby to the nursery to be “admitted” – weighed, temperature monitored, and after a while given its first bath to remove body fluids. Then your “rooming-in” experience will begin and continue until you leave the hospital to go home.
After delivery of your baby, you will be very curious and inquisitive about your newborn. You will inspect every inch of that baby! Yes! Count those toes and fingers! Get to know him or her! Take a peek under that tiny tee-shirt! Look at those tiny little fingernails, and don’t cringe at the thought of trimming them – they are so soft you can peel them away CAREFULLY! Babies are very resilient too. So, you can pick them up with calm knowing that they won’t fall apart!
Here are some newborn characteristics that may interest you
- Newborn tremors – Normal. Why? Lets think about it. Baby has been in the fetal position in tight quarters for several months. In its new environment baby has room to move its arms and legs in. It will be a couple of months before baby discovers it. You’ll see the day baby discovers his feet is adorable! But more important is baby’s muscle movements are not coordinated at birth. This is because neuromuscular development is progressive from the head down to the toes, called cephalocaudal development. It takes several months to develop coordinated, purposeful, muscular movements as you will notice in the next few months. You will notice your newborn over the next few days and weeks trying to lift its head to look around, strengthening the neck muscles first. Everyday muscle coordination will get better, stronger and stronger, and baby will hold its head longer and longer. This development will progress systematically down the spinal cord. And as it does, you will notice more purposeful movements in the hands, pushing up with hands, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and eventually walking. The first year for a baby is a miraculous one in neuromuscular development. It’s wonderful to notice (take lots of video and pictures)
- Cross-eyed appearance – Normal, again because of immature neuromuscular development. It will correct itself.
- Sneezing -Normal. Baby is removing fluid from the delivery. They are not sick with the “flu”.
- Hiccups-Normal, and eventually go away
- Swollen Genitalia – Normal and caused by mothers hormones still in baby’s system. This will resolve itself.
- Milia – Normal. Little white bumps on the nose and face of baby. These are clogged pores. Don’t squeeze or wipe to get rid of it. It will go away on its own.
- Peeling Skin – Normal. You may see this on the hands and feet. Baby has been in fluid for nine months, now baby is in a dry environment, and the skin may appear dry. Just gently rub some lotion onto the skin and that should take care of it.
- Tiny and Skinny or tiny and chubby – Normal. Genetics play a role here in how hay look. hey are newborns! Start fattening them up with nourishment from breastfeeding or formula feeding and soon before you know it, you’ll see that nice plump little baby! By the way, you can not spoil a baby! So feed them often, pick them up when they cry because you teach them to trust their environment, hep them to thrive and grow by doing so.
Your choice in nourishment for your baby is a personal decision. Of course, breastfeeding is the best choice, but it is not for everyone. So, you must decide what will work best for you and your lifestyle. Breastfeeding is a learned skill for mom AND baby. so take heart. You know the saying, practice makes perfect, and so it is with breastfeeding.
Whether you decide to breastfeed OR bottle feed, keep the following in mind:
- Babies can dehydrate easily if they are not getting enough fluid. It is important to feed them every 2 – 3 hours during the day, and less at night (to hopefully get the baby to sleep at night) and ALWAYS on demand. Signs of dehydration are:
- Sunken fontanels located on baby’s head
- Sticky mucous membranes in the mouth
- Dry sticky tongue
- No tears when crying
- Lack of response to stimuli
- Breastfeed baby on demand. You may think, oh baby is eating too much and is going to get fat. For the first six months formula and breast milk is ALL they are getting and is enough for them until their digestive track can handle food which is around six months. Babies need the fat provided in formula and breast milk for neuromuscular development and their weight will balance out as they get older.
- Babies use different facial muscles when breastfeeding than when bottle feeding. It is for this reason that “nipple confusion” happens. Babies have to “work” harder to breastfeed. The mother’s nipple AND as much of the areola has to be in baby’s mouth for successful sucking and nursing. Bottle feeding however, is effortless and easy for baby because the formula or breast milk (if in a bottle) just about “pours” into baby’s mouth, and down its throat. Baby doesn’t “work” at it. Because of this, and depending if a bottle has been introduced early, there may be a challenge in breastfeeding. Hang in there.. With patience, determination, and persistence you can overcome this.
Breastfeeding success is in the “latch”. Painful breastfeeding or cracked nipples is due to a poor latch of baby on the breast.
- Change breastfeeding positions
- Breastfeeding operates on the infamous law of “supply and demand”. Simply, the the more your breast feed, the more milk your body will KNOW to make, which is stimulated by baby sucking, and /or pumping with a breast pump. So, if you are formula feeding, do not stimulate the breasts to produce milk (no nursing, pumping, warm showers) and what ever milk you do have, will diminish.
When you are in the hospital or home, your nurse, Midwife, Pediatrician, and Lactation Consultant will guide you in whatever choices you make or problems you have. Remember, your choice in nourishment for your baby will be the best for you and your personal circumstances.
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