Pregnancy is an exciting new ride for you and your spouse. Of course you visualise yourself, smiling softly, with the mister beaming proudly as nurse lays the fluffy white towel with your darling little… uh… why’s his head shaped like that? What’s wrong with her face? SmartParents spoke to Dr Lee Bee Wah, consultant paediatrician and clinical paediatric immunologist/allergist at the Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, for her expert advice on newborns.
1. About half of all normal babies are born with slightly yellow tinge on the skin and whites of the eyes, a condition known as neonatal jaundice. Dr Lee tells us, “It is caused by excess bilirubin, released during the breakdown of red blood cells.” Our livers normally filter bilirubin from the blood stream; however, an infant’s immature liver is unable to filter this quickly enough. The tint usually fades in 1 to 2 weeks.
2. Is baby slippery and wrinkly-looking? This is completely normal, her skin may be slippery as it is covered in vernix, a greasy white liquid that protected her in the uterus.
3. Is that a blue-grey spot on baby’s lower back? “These spots, known as Mongolian spots, are usually found on the lower backs, legs, shoulders or buttocks of infants at birth,” notes Dr Lee. They are a type of birthmark and usually go away in the early years of life.
4. Baby’s first diaper will contain a dark, sticky tar-like substance known as meconium. It comes from all the stuff the little one has digested in your womb and will be gone in two to three days. Over the next few days, your baby’s poop will change in appearance. If you are breastfeeding, it will look loose and yellowy-green. If you’re feeding bubba with formula milk then stools tend to be firmer and more yellowy-brown.
5. Your newborn may have “sticky eyes”, a yellowish or creamy discharge around the eyes. This is because he/she picked up bacteria in the birth canal. You can clean this by wiping baby’s eyes gently with a cloth wetted with boiled water.
6. Do not panic when bubba loses some birth weight in the first week after birth. This happens due to the shock of being born and about 5 to 8 per cent of birth weight will be lost. The weight should return within a couple of weeks.
7. Your baby’s head can mould into a cone shape during delivery due to the use of forceps during delivery. It should return to normal within 1 to 2 days.
8. Baby’s kneecaps are made of cartilage during the first few years of life so don’t be alarmed if there is no distinct bone definition.
9. Bubba’s genitals may be out of proportion at first due to some of your pregnancy hormones being in his/her system. A boy’s penis can be a little on the large side while a girl’s labia may be a little swollen. Sometimes, girls may even bleed a little from the vagina but all will resume to normal once the hormones leave the body.