Newborn Care

Thea spent her first week without diapers or clothing.Five days postpartumMaya and Rachel at seven weeks postpartPoppa and babyMom nursing baby

CORD CARE: Diaper the baby below the cord stump. You can choose to apply alcohol, or not apply alcohol, to your baby's cord stump. It falls off faster if you leave it alone, but will be a bit more smelly and gooey without the alcohol. It is a normal process. The alcohol prolongs the decaying process, but is tidy.

EYES: If eyes are goopy, clean them twice a day with boiled water and sterile cotton balls. If they do not clear up in 24 hours, call your midwife. Clogged tear ducts are normal and usually start out with one eye mattering. Massaging the duct at the corner of the inner, lower lid can help. Breastmilk dripped directly into your baby's eyes can help heal minor inflammation and irritation.

POSITIONING: Place baby on his/her back to sleep. Keep baby warm, but not too hot in the summer. S/he cannot regulate body temperature very well yet. You may wish to check your baby's temperature occasionally to practice this skill. Place the thermometer in the middle of the armpit with the arm tucked down closely over it. Newborn temperature should be between 97.5 and 99.5 degrees.

STOOLS: (BM) At first they will be dark and gummy (tarry meconium). Vegetable oil is good for cleaning meconium off. Stools should progress to golden yellow, soft, somewhat like scrambled eggs in appearance. Breastfed babies' stools should not smell bad. Your baby should pee and poop within 24 hours of birth.

BATHING: Bathing a baby immediately after birth depends upon the mother's medical history. Talk to your provider about the necessity and timing of your baby's first bath. Vernix is a natural substance present on some babies at birth which can be massaged into the skin. An herbal bath after birth is very relaxing and refreshing to mother and child. Avoid soap on your baby's skin, as it is very drying. Clean creases of skin carefully. Avoid talc and mineral oil (petroleum) products. You can use a natural vegetable oil to massage into baby after the bath.

JAUNDICE: A slight yellow color of the skin and eyes may occur about day 2-3 after birth and may last as long as 7-14 days. This is normal and is caused by a breakdown of extra red blood cells that are processed outward through the skin, due to baby's liver being fairly immature at birth. With normal jaundice, frequent breastfeeding is very helpful. Holding your baby in sunlight is helpful as well; talk to your midwife about exposure time. If jaundice appears in the first 24 hours, call your midwife immediately. If your baby has normal jaundice as described above, but becomes lethargic, or the yellow skin color expands to below the navel or onto the soles of the feet and/or palms of the hands, call your midwife immediately; your baby should be seen by your health care provider.

COLIC: Trapped gas can make babies scream. Be sure to burp your baby well after every feeding. Choose a calm environment for nursing, and relax. Support yourself with pillows to reduce muscle tension. Some babies are sensitive to too much foremilk, which is richer in lactose. Be sure baby gets a good amount of the last milk (hind milk) in each breast. It contains the most fat, adds calories for growth, and balances the amount of lactose your baby ingests. Some babies are sensitive to some foods that mothers eat. Colic, however, is not always caused by dietary factors. Refer to Breastfeeding Support at this website.

CRYING: If you've done everything to comfort baby and s/he is still crying, stay calm. Let your baby know you are there. It is normal for babies to want to be held. Being held gives your baby a sense of security and self confidence which will help to make him/her more independent later on. Place baby in a babypack or rebozo carrier while you do your other work. You may try taking your baby for a drive in the car. This often puts babies to sleep. Vacuumcleaner noise has been effective in getting babies to sleep, as well. You may get a CD of vacuumcleaner sounds specifically for this purpose.

PKU: Your baby can get a PKU heel stick test shortly after birth, but doing it on the the day after birth is typical. State laws usually require two PKU tests, done 10-14 days apart. Talk to your midwife about this requirement, so you fully understand the issues.

VARIATIONS: Your baby will be carefully examined by your midwife or physician the day of the birth. Midwives are skilled at assessing when a newborn is normal and when a newborn needs to be seen by a physician. Babies sleep a lot, but should wake up to nurse at least every four hours. Your baby should be wetting 4-6 diapers daily after your milk comes in. A newborn may develop little white pimples (milia) on his/her face due to clogged oil pores. These are normal and will go away if left undisturbed. Some babies get a normal newborn rash, which is blotchy in appearance and can cover much of the body. Have your midwife look at any rash your baby develops. Breast engorgement (boys and girls) and a little bloody discharge vaginally (girls) can occur normally in newborns due to hormones passed to them from the mother. It isĀ  normal for babies to cough and sneeze frequently to clear their airways after birth. Babies are very sensitive and responsive to family moods, especially mom's. If you are upset or tense, your baby will sense this. Get out with your baby as much as possible after the first few weeks. You'll feel better and so will your baby. Newborns are easy to take along, sleeping most of the time in a pack or carrier, waking up to nurse, and get a diaper change.