Baby’s early days
Occassionally, a baby will require special attention. This may be required if the baby is premature, very small or has a health problem. However most do not require specialist attention. It is important to be aware of Sudden infant death syndrome – SID and how it occurs. We have compiled some useful information below about what to expect when your baby is born “Baby’s Early Days”. For a little light relief visit our Meet the parents section.
In the baby’s first few days, he will receive a full paediatric examination (usually from the hospital paediatrician). Usually this examination takes place in the hospital before discharge, but it can take place after discharge.
The examination is a general examination covering all the baby’s body but concentrating on the heart, eyes and hips. Occasionally, the hips can be dislocated (Click Hip) and this will require corrective action. This is more common in girls.
After a baby has been born, they are assessed to obtain their Apgar score. The following are assessed on –
- Heart rate
- Muscle tone
Each one is scored 0-2 after one, five and ten minutes. This gives a total value out of 10. Most babies score 7 or over. Babies who score 5 or below are usually placed on a resusication trolley, where oxygen is given and suction is used to clear mucus from the air passage. This treatment usually only lasts a few minutes.
Babies are given a vitamin K injection (or orally) after birth. Vitamin K is important in controlling bleeding. Babies have a deficiency in this vitamin, which helps prevent ‘haemorrhagic’ – a bleeding disorder which affects some babies.
Newborn babies can often look different than what you expected, you may notice some irregularities but don’t worry there are certain irregularities which are normal.
Your Baby’s skin will probably be covered in a creamy substance vernix. This protects the baby in the womb. This substance can be cleaned off or left to come off gradually. Overdue babies may have dry or cracked skin, but this will return to normal.
Many babies have a naevus or birthmark when born. They are usually found on the eyelids, nose or neck. They will fade over time. Some babies have Strawberry marks due to dilated blood vessels.
Port wine stains are visible from birth and are permanent, although they can now be successfully treated with laser therapy.
Your baby’s head shape may look a little unusual after birth. This is caused by the pressure on the head as the baby moves down the birth canal. The baby may also have a lump if a vacuum delivery used. The baby’s head can change shape because the skull bones are not fully joined and can overlap. The head will return to it’s normal shape within a few days.
There may be a swelling at the back of the head – caput or a cyst like swelling – cephalhaematoma, this may take a few months to disappear.
Most babies have blue-grey eyes after birth, but the colour can change in the coming weeks and months. If your baby has any discharge from their eyes, contact your doctor. When bathing the eyes use cotton wool balls moistened in cool boiled water. Rub from the inner corner outwards. Use a different cotton wool ball for each stroke.
When born, the umbilical cord is still attached to the baby and the placenta. It is clamped and cut just after birth. A stump is left where the cord was attached to the baby. This will shrivel and seperate within a week or two. You should keep this area clean until the stub falls off.
Jaundice is a yellow discolouration of the skin a few days after birth. This is due to a temporary buildup of bilirubin in the baby. Normally this is removed by the baby’s liver but a newborn’s liver may not be able to do this effectively. Babies are usually treated with phototherapy (special lights).
note: Jaundice with 24 hours of birth is abnormal and if you notice a yellow discolouration you should tell your doctor/midwife/nurse straight away.
Newborn babies usually pass small amounts of urine after birth, they may also have a bowel movement within 24 hours of birth. Baby’s first bowel movement consists of a green-black substance called meconium.
Babies usually lose up to 10% of their birth weight in the first few days. They usually regain their weight within two weeks.
All babies have a blood sample taken in their first few days. This is taken using a heel prick and is used for the Guthrie test. This is used to screen for metabolic disorders including PKU (Phenylketonuria).