Congratulations on your new baby! Even though some baby books will state that they are “manuals”, babies don’t actually come with them! There are some great books out there you can use as reference guides and as you learn more about your baby you will grow to recognize changes. We are there to help you in the early days at postpartum home visits and then at our clinic check-ups. We can answer your questions and help you as you transition into becoming parents.
Between 36.3 to 37.5C is normal. If the baby’s temperature is over 37.5, take off a layer of clothing and re-check in 30 minutes.
If the temperature is less than 36.3, place the baby skin-to-skin with you and cover both of you, or wrap the baby in a blanket warmed in the dryer, and re-check in 30 minutes.
Irregular, shallow breathing is normal for a newborn. They will even stop breathing for up to 20 seconds at a time. Normal ranges are 40-70 per minute for the first 24 hours, and 30-60 thereafter.
Babies make all kinds of faces and noises, most of which are endearing and normal. They may blow bubbles or cough up mucous for the first few days. If you see flaring nostrils, grunting with each expiration, or the baby’s chest pulls in sharply between the ribs when s/he breathes: these are signs that the baby is having to work hard to breathe and should be reported to your midwife.
Regardless of ethnicity, all newborns are pink. It is not uncommon for the baby’s hands and feet to be blue during the first day. If it happens after the first day it may mean that s/he is cold.
Sponge baths or tub baths are okay, although not necessary, right from birth. Research has shown that babies who are not bathed for the first 2-3 days find the breast easier which makes breastfeeding more successful. When you do start bathing, it may be easiest for mom (or anyone) to get in the tub, then have someone hand her the baby.
Babies’ is influenced for several weeks by the maternal hormones passed through the placenta. This can caused small red “acne” which usually is on the face or trunk, and disappears quickly.
The cord usually falls off within the first few days or weeks.
Problems to report include a large halo of redness around the cord area (some redness is normal due to irritation from diapers, etc), or excessive bleeding when the cord falls off (enough that it stains the blanket the baby is lying on).
Healthy, term babies are built to lose some weight after birth before the milk comes in. This allows them time to take in the highly concentrated antibodies in the mother’s colostrum before they get the higher volume and hydration of breastmilk. Sometimes they get dehydrated enough that their urine forms crystals. These are called urate crystals and are pinky orange. More common in boys, they are often mistaken for blood in the diaper.
Skin color changes to pale, grey or bluish
Difficulty breathing: nasal flaring, grunting, retraction of sternum
Apnea >20 seconds
Lethargic or difficult to arouse
Excessive, high-pitched crying
Blisters, boils, pustules or other unusual rash
Red halo or bleeding cord area
Urate crystals after first 48 hrs
Jaundice that appears in first 24 hours, extends into extremities, or rapidly increases
If circumcised: if there is discharge or the penis becomes increasingly red or swollen