You’ve spent months waiting for the birth of your child. Now, you’ve finally met them and it’s time to go home.
While bringing your newborn home is a joyous experience, it can also be a scary one for new parents. A newborn routine is part of your schedule. The new parents are suddenly bombarded with concerns and questions: “What do newborn babies need?” “How should our first days with the baby look like?” and “What happens if we mess up?”
Like many new parents, you might not have a clear idea of what life with a newborn will look like. Worrying is natural, so we’ve broken down the basics new parents should know about life with their newborn baby.
After the birth of your baby, the doctors will perform an Apgar score to evaluate your baby’s health. This routine exam measures your child’s vital signs and responsiveness. The doctor checks five factors: grimace reflex response, muscle tone, color, breathing and heart rate. Newborns receive a score of 0 to 2 in each category. In the end, the doctor combines all the results to get the total Apgar score.
This newborn test is done again in a minute and again at five minutes. Doctors perform this test to determine if your child needs help breathing. If your baby scores 7 to 10, they are considered normal and no special actions are required. On the other hand, a lower score requires additional help, such as providing the newborn with oxygen.
Your baby will go through other quick procedures, such as:
- Measuring head circumference, weight and length
- Clearing the nasal passages with a suction bulb
- Application of eye drops or ointment to prevent infection
After all of these tests, the medical staff will dry your baby and wrap them in a blanket. Before you know it, they’re back in your arms for bonding. The staff will let your newborn breastfeed first before they do a few more procedures, which last for about 10 to 30 minutes.
Your Newborn’s Appearance During Their First Week
Your baby’s appearance will change over the first week. When they first arrive, your baby will look like a tiny and wet creature with a head that is slightly pointed out (due to them passing through the birth canal). Don’t worry, Mom and Dad; this is temporary. Their head will round-up within a few days. If your child’s head is bigger compared to their body, don’t worry. That’s OK too.
Your newborn might look scrunched up since their arms and legs have been bent at the elbows and knees in the womb. Their limbs will eventually straighten out as they grow.
In terms of their skin, your baby’s might look somewhat pink, purple or red. Some babies are born with a pale coating called vernix caseosa, which is a fluid that protects their skin from exposure to the womb’s amniotic fluid. This coating washes off with your child’s first bath. Other newborns look wrinkled while others have a furry appearance.
Blotches, rashes and tiny white spots are also common in newborn babies. These often clear up over the first few days after their birth.
Feeding Your Baby and Putting Them to Sleep
Feeding is a crucial part of every newborn’s routine. A mother who is breastfeeding can start as soon as the nurse places their baby in her arms. Her milk won’t fully arrive until a day or two, especially if she is a first-time mother. However, babies will get their nourishment from the colostrums, which is the first source of nutrition of babies. As your baby sucks on your breast, this will trigger your hormones to start producing breast milk.
Initially, you’ll feed your newborn every two to three hours 24/7. If you want to bottle-feed your child, you can do so within their first few hours.
As for sleep, expect your child to sleep most of the time and wake up every few hours to feed. As much as you want them to sleep through the night, don’t expect them to do so. Newborn babies have small tummies, so they need to wake up and feed often.
Common Health Concerns in their First Week
If your newborn experiences one of the following health concerns, don’t worry. Common concerns include the following:
- Weight loss
- Sticky eye
If something doesn’t seem right and you’re still worried about your baby, seek medical help. Get in touch with the midwives at the hospital where your child was born or call your family GP or pediatrician.
Life with a newborn can be scary for new parents, but don’t worry! Your child is in good hands — yours.