Newborn Babies- What to expect
If you’ve just given birth to a baby, we must first congratulate you. Giving birth to a new life is perhaps the most fulfilling experience there is, so the warm, fuzzy glow that envelopes you right now is perfectly warranted. Sometimes it can get daunting to appreciate the amount of responsibility that lies on you, the mother, to care for your child and ensure her physical and emotional well-being, but don’t fret. For one, babies are made by Mother Nature to be tougher than we generally give them credit for. For another, we will give you a few tips on what to expect.
The newborn’s skull is not made of hard bones, so if you run your hand over your child’s scalp and find it soft and yielding, know that it is normal. The skull is made of a tough membrane which allows for growth and for easy moulding to the shape of the birth canal during delivery. There are two spots on the head where the bones aren’t fully formed (called fontanellas), a triangular spot at the back of the head that closes in six weeks, and a diamond shaped spot at the front which takes up to eighteen months to close. So if your baby’s head seems out of shape, it is fairly common. Have a conversation with your doctor who will suggest ways to coax it back into shape.
One of the most beautiful sights in the world, some say, is that of a newborn blinking. Your baby’s eyes are about two-thirds the size of an adult’s, and she can only see objects up to twenty or thirty centimetres away from her. Tiny haemorrhages may appear on the whites as a result of constriction in the eyelids during birth. Most babies stop moving and widen their eyes when a sound appears in their vicinity – like an adult’s voice. If you’re concerned that your baby isn’t responding normally, consult your midwife who will perform a hearing test.
Babies are born with grasp reflex, so if you place your finger in her palm, she will curl her fingers around it. Sometimes her hands may look blue due to immature circulation; while this is normal, you should contact your doctor urgently if her lips or tongue appear blue. If you hold your baby upright on a flat surface, her walking reflex will take over. Her toes will also display what are called the Babinski and Plantar reflexes, whereby her big toe will either curl outward or inward respectively.
Babies lose up to 10% of their body weight in the first week after birth, due to their first bowel movements and discharge of surplus fluid. Full-term babies generally have enough reserves to cope with this weight loss, and will soon put on weight once breastfeeding begins. Since the rate of energy absorption in the first few days is low, this weight gain may take ten to fourteen days to kick in. In the first three months, an average baby puts on between 150 and 300 grams of body weight.
Of course, at any point, if you’re concerned that your baby is not behaving as expected, or if you see symptoms that you don’t recognise, the best course of action is to call your doctor and ask for advice. When it comes to your little bundle of joy, you cannot be too careful. But having said that, don’t allow the worries to take over what should be a magical time of watching your baby take her first steps in the world with her little fingers clasped around yours.