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Baby Content

After The Birth

The moment of elation after your baby is born makes the hard work of labour all worthwhile !
Newborn's are usually covered in a white pasty substance called vernix which has protected their skin inutero. Vernix has excellent moisturising properties, so don't wipe it off your baby, rub it in to her skin. And if your not squeamish, rub a little around your eyes to battle wrinkles !

As your baby is new to this big world outside and is also an alien to the atmosphere that surrounds him now. So, initially for few days following birth, your child will require some special attention from your side

Immediately following the birth, there are several procedures your doctor or midwife may wish to administer to your newborn.

Paediatrics Analysis

During the initial days after the birth , your baby will go through a number of paediatrics examinations and analysis. This kind of examination usually takes place when you and your baby are still in the hospital under medical supervision. It is also possible that the doctors may call you after you have been discharged for the purpose of regular check-ups of the baby.


The basic purpose underlying these analysis and examinations is an overall-general examination of the baby.

The examination takes care of the whole body of the baby , but special attention is given to heart, eyes and hips . Sometimes hips get dislocated, which has to be treated, this ailment is more common in girls.

Suction and Clamping
Your babies nose and mouth are routinely suctioned to clear it's airways for breathing. This is quite unpleasant I would imagine and not always necessary. Once the head is delivered, if the baby is allowed to rotate naturally and wait for the next contraction for the body to follow, a natural draining process will occur. If baby still sounds gurgly after

Typically the baby is weighed and measured and checked over for any abnormalities. Provided there were no serious complications with the delivery, these can all be done once the baby has breastfed at leisure.

As for clamping the umbilical cord, unless there is danger to the baby of strangulation or impeded delivery, the umbilical cord should never be clamped or cut until it has stopped pulsating and your baby is breathing air. While the cord is pulsating it is still providing oxygen to your baby's brain and pre-mature severing can cause brain damage, heart problems to name a few. Here are two good links for more detailed medical reasons to delay clamping the cord.

Risks of Pre-Mature Cord Clamping

Five Good reasons to Delay Cord Clamping
This information is not aimed to frighten anyone, but to create awareness of your baby's health and needs and all-too common medical mistakes that you can prevent.

Vitamin K
You may also have discussed whether or not your newborn is to receive a Vitamin K injection or oral drops. Since babies are born with less Vitamin K than adults in their system, an dose is given to assist in the clotting of babies blood to prevent the rare instance of brain haemorrhaging.

This medicine is either given in form of an injection or orally. Vitamin K is essential for controlling the bleeding. New Borns are deficient in this vitamin, and therefore have more chances to develop 'hemorrhagic' - a baby disorder. Apgar score Soon after the birth the baby is required to go through an assessment of his Apgar Score. This is assessed on the basis of the baby's:

  • Breathing
  • Activity
  • Color
  • Muscle tone
  • Heart rate

Each one of the above mentioned areas is rated on the scale of 0-2 after periods of 1,5 and 10 minutes. This adds to a total of 10. On an average, most of the babies score 7 or more. But some babies who fall short of a score of 5 are given special attention. They are usually placed on a resusication trolley, and are given oxygen, suction is used to clear mucus from the air passage. This treatment usually require only a few minutes.

New research has been coming to light regarding Vitamin K and I would recommend visiting this Vitamin K Studies link so you can make an informed choice. My first child was injected with vitamin K as I was unaware of the controversy regarding it. My second child was then administered the very bitter drops, as at the time I was told the drops posed less risk of childhood cancer than the injection.

Upon further investigation, none of my subsequent children had any form of vitamin K other than that provided in my breast milk.
Here's more information and research on Vitamin K

Shape of Head

It is possible that the shape of your baby's head might look a bit unusual after the birth. This is due to the pressure that is put on the head while baby travels down the birth canal. There may also be a lump if a vacuum delivery has been used. The head will get transformed into the normal shape with the passage of a few days. Another thing noteworthy in the same context is that , there might be some swelling behind the head. it can be a caput or a cyst like swelling called "cephalhaematoma".this kind of a bulge may take a few months to turn to normal.

Eyes

Mostly the baby's eyes are blue-Grey in color after birth, but there are chances that this color may change in a few weeks or months. If you notice any kind of water like discharge from your baby's eyes , make it a point to consult your doctor. Moreover take special care of the eyes while bathing the baby. Use cotton wool made wet in cool boiled water to clean the eyes. While cleaning the eyes make outward coming strokes. And also make sure that you use different cotton for each stroke.

Skin

Soon after the birth, your baby's body will have a coating of a cream like substance called vernix. this coating help to protect the baby when he is in the womb. You can either clean it off or otherwise it will come off on itself gradually. Dry or cracked skin is quite normal in case of overdue babies, this skin will slowly turn to normal.

Birthmarks

A large number of newborns have a birthmark or naevus or birthmark. Such marks are generally found near the eyelids, neck or nose . With the passage of time, they fade away themselves. Also take notice of Strawberry marks, that are found on some babies. These marks are a result of dilated blood vessels. Apart from all these kinds of birthmarks there Port wine stains as well. The important thing to observe about these marks is that they are permanent. but now a days they are being successfully removed using laser therapy.

Jaundice

Jaundice is a disease which is very common among the new born babies. In this , the skin of the baby turns yellow after a few days after birth. This happens as a result of accumulation of a substance called bilirubin baby's body. Usually it is pushed out by the liver of the baby , but sometimes a baby's liver is not capable enough to do this effectively. in such case the baby is given a treatment called "photo therapy" (special lights). An important point to note in this context is that , Jaundice within the 24 hours of birth is not considered as normal. Any transformation of color towards yellow should immediately be reported to the doctor or the nurse.

Weight Loss

Loosing weight after birth is normal . 10% of the birth weight is lost by all the babies in first few days. The lost weight is usually regained within next couple of weeks.

Blood Tests

Doctors usually take a blood sample of the newborns during the initial days after birth. This sample is taken with the help of a heel prick for conducting the Guthrie test. This test is done to detect any metabolic disorders like PKU (Phenylketonuria).

Bowel Movement

After birth the babies usually pass very small quantity of urine. They may also have a movement during 24 hours of birth. First stool passed by the baby is black in color and is called meconium. Keeping a track of all the above mentioned points will help you to get more familiar with your baby's body and will also let you take better care of your newborn.

Eye Ointment
Eye drops are routine administered to newborns, and again they are not without controversy. Traditionally Silver Nitrate was put in the newborns eyes after the birth to kill bacteria that may have been picked in the birth canal (like gonorrhea, chlamydia, etc.). There were many cases of eye irritation stemming from this and so now erythromycin antibiotic ointment is used.

However, there is still concern over the effects of this ointment on the newborns health and speculation over whether or not it should be given routinely. Visit this link for alternative information on Newborn eye Ointment and make your own decision.


If your newborn has a slight goopy discharge from their eyes or you often find crusties in them, expressing a little breastmilk into the affected or both eyes will clear up any minor problems. Breastmilk contains many beneficial properties and has a success record of being used in this way.
Follow this link to more information on Newborn Eye Ointment

The Leboyer Method
Frederick Leboyer created a new awareness in the managed childbirth system with the publication of his book "Birth without violence". This book gives the view of birth from the newborn's perspective and ideas as to how to make it less traumatic. Thank goodness that it is no longer routine to dangle a newborn by it's ankles and slap it's buttocks to welcome it to the world, but there are still many harshness' of our environment that we are maybe so used to that we have to re-think how this is impacting our child's first minutes and hours in the world.


Light: The foetus has spent nine and a half months with only a dim rosy glow for light. The light of a delivery room or even ordinary overhead lighting would be blinding. Once the baby is born, it is naturally easier for them to explore their new environment in dim, subtle lighting. Unfortunately, this will prevent the success of photo opportunities unless you have a professional camera, but I feel it's a small sacrifice.


Sound: All sound your baby has heard has been muffled by the amniotic fluid and your body. Upon delivery, sound will then seem amplified to your baby's ears. Hushed voices will be more welcoming.


Touch: It has been a very warm, aquatic environment you newborn is used to, then within seconds, the cool air is brushing it's skin and then a scratchy towel or blanket is rubbing it into shock ! Make sure the room is as warm as possible and baby lands on your warm skin after the birth. All towels and clothes that your baby feels should be as soft as possible, although not drenched in skin irritating fabric softener ! Brushed flannel cotton is the softest fabric I have found for newborn clothes and blankets. Remember though, all your baby wants to feel is your warm skin.

The Baby Moon
The few weeks following the birth is traditionally known as the "Baby Moon". It is the time when you and your new baby are getting to know each other and adjusting to your new life together.

Some new mum's seem eager to get things back to "normal" and are down the supermarket, babe in tow within a few days. Indeed, with my first baby, through mis-managed circumstances, my husband and I were house-hunting 8 days post partum ! I gasp to think of it now !

In some cultures it is customary to seclude mother and baby for up to a month or more, and this, I think, is more like it !


If you can secure help from friends and family for the postpartum fortnight, do so ! Take full advantage of people offering to help with meals, laundry etc. your life will develop it's new rhythm soon enough and you'll be back on top of things, but now is definitely the time to let some stuff slide ! ..

Make a list of things you need done and let someone else do them.
My advice to new mums is to stay in your bedclothes for at least 2 weeks. People are less likely to ask you to do anything if you're "not dressed" ! Keep visitors to a minimum. Again, this is easier done if you're in bed and resting. Enjoy the adjustment period of establishing breastfeeding without the hassle of clothing and nursing bras. Sleep when your baby sleeps, and just hang out together when you're both awake. Nothing will facilitate bonding faster than this sacred time together.

When it's time to show baby to your community, don't feel shy asking people to wash their hands before touching or holding your baby. A newborn's defences are low initially and transference of bacteria into your baby's mouth is easy with a harmless hand stroke from Granny.

Umbilical Care
Baby's umbilicus will dry up and fall off with 7-14 days after the birth.
To care for it your just need to keep it dry and clean.
At nappy changes, it is advised to wipe around the base with a clean cotton swab dipped in alcohol. This has commonly been used with satisfactory results, but may be a bit harsh. I have also known of parents using calendula tincture or witch hazel.

If you notice a persistent redness/soreness and greenish discharge, then you need to be more scrupulous in cleaning the cord. Be gentle though, and do not pull or force the cord to drop off !

If you suspect an infection, talk to your midwife or health visitor who can suggest a method of treatment. The use of antibiotics should be entirely avoidable if you catch the problem soon enough.

Traditional umbilical facts:
Native Americans would keep a piece of the dried umbilical cord in a pouch around baby's neck into childhood. If the child fell sick, he would chew on the cord to promote healing.
It has also been ground into a powder by many cultures and drunk to cure ills.

In our family, we take the length of cord and sever it from the placenta, squeeze all the remaining blood from it and lay it to dry out; in the shape of a spiral for the girls and a wavy "snake" for the boys. We have them pinned in a display case, a most interesting conversation piece ( ! ), but most of all a special symbol of my connection to my children.

Circumcision Information
For one of the best articles ever written on this topic covering religious, cultural, medical and social issues, click here: Mothering Circumcision Article

It is hard to deny that the bizarre and outstandingly cruel practise of severing a newborn male's foreskin is a blatant disregard to child torture.
Whether parents cite religious or philosophical reasons for this sickening act, it needs to be outlawed as an indefensible crime against helpless newborns.

If someone is seriously considering putting their child through a circumcision, I would advise that they obtain a video of the procedure to make themselves fully aware of what is involved. There is a wealth of information and research proving the harm and permanent damage both physically and emotionally that this "surgery" causes.
If you have religious, and or social issues regarding circumcision, this article is a must read to provide yourself with important information.

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