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The first 24 hours of a newborn baby are the most overwhelming. Your hormones are having a ride of their own, and your emotions are all over the place. Taking care of a tiny human that looks so fragile and beautiful is a big responsibility.
Video: Newborn Baby Care Immediately After Birth – 12 Important Steps to Follow
Newborn Care Immediately After Birth
Immediate care of a newborn following delivery is a must. There are a lot of things that go into the care of the child when just born- the breathing of the child, sleeping, baby’s first breath and more. Here are some of the most immediate requirements that you need to take care of as soon as your baby is born.
1. Umbilical Cord Care
Through the nine months of your pregnancy, the umbilical cord was a lifeline that connected you to your baby, providing your loved one with all the oxygen and nourishment that was needed. Once the baby is all set to face the world, the umbilical cord is cut, as it isn’t required anymore. Cutting the umbilical cord looks and sounds painful, but it isn’t. You’ll see that a stump of the umbilical cord remains in the navel of your child. This stump usually falls off anywhere between a week to a month. Once it falls, the belly button of the child might look sore – this takes a few more days to heal. If you see traces of blood – calm down, it’s normal. You might also see some yellow fluid, that’s normal too. As far as care for the umbilical cord is concerned, make sure you keep the area dry and clean at all times. Don’t try to pull out or remove the stump off; it must fall off on its own.
Breastfeeding your child is a necessary, but challenging milestone; it can sometimes leave you frustrated, sore, and even angry. Your milk is the best, most nutritious food that you can give to your infant, and breastfeeding your child is great for your health as well. You can start breastfeeding your baby about an hour or two after birth. At first, you’ll see that the milk is thick and yellowish – that’s some extremely rich, healthy milk called colostrum. Filled with antioxidants and protein, colostrum is extremely beneficial for your baby. Make sure you have good back support and position yourself comfortably. Most mothers bring the breast to their baby – don’t do that. Instead, bring the baby to your breasts, so that he or she knows how to attach. A lot of women suffer from cracked nipples and hardening of breasts, for which there are ointments available that can provide relief.
3. Baby’s First Breath
Your baby, in the womb, didn’t have to worry about breathing. However, post-birth, the baby’s lungs which were previously filled with fluid, are now filled with air. This sudden shift is bound to be difficult for a newborn baby, so the first few breaths of your infant are usually hard, laboured, shallow and irregular. This isn’t a cause for concern as long as the baby’s breathing steadies up and becomes normal.
A newborn baby’s breathing is usually irregular. While this is not a cause for alarm, do monitor the baby; if you think the breathing is too noisy, consult a doctor.
4. APGAR Test
The APGAR test is the first test that the doctor will perform on your child to make sure that your baby is normal. APGAR stands for appearance, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration. All of this is tested, and the child is given a score accordingly. This score, which is called the APGAR score, will tell you if everything is normal with the child or if there is a cause for concern. A score of 7 and above is considered normal, a score of 4 to 6 is considered relatively low, while anything below 3 is claimed critically low.
If the doctor determines that the score is too low at the 5-minute mark, he/she may need to provide medical attention immediately.
5. Weighing Your Baby
Most newborns weigh between 2 kgs to 4 kgs. The weight of your child is an indicator of how your baby is doing, so it is imperative that you keep a tab on it. A newborn baby is bound to lose weight during the first week post-birth, as a lot of body fluid is lost during this time. However, you will see an increase in the weight of your child after a week or so.
Adequate weight gain is important for a baby’s physical and mental development. If you feel the required gain is not taking place, do consult a paediatrician and plan a diet which provides all the nutrients with which the baby needs to thrive.
6. Baby’s First Poop
Your baby’s first poop is called meconium. This looks very different from faeces, but that is completely normal. You baby, when in your womb, has ingested a lot of fluids, so the first few faecal discharges might look different. Give it a week or two, and you’ll see that the baby’s poop is relatively normal.
If you do not see meconium pass in 24 hours, it may be because of intestinal obstruction, and you must consult a doctor immediately.
7. Skin-to-Skin Contact
Skin-to-skin contact is very important for your child. Throughout the pregnancy, the baby is in the comfort of your womb, but all of a sudden during birth, this isn’t the case, and this is why skin to skin contact is necessary. Your baby is placed naked, against your naked skin, and a blanket is wrapped around both you and your child. You’ll see the baby relax almost instantly. This also makes the baby familiar with you.
8. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is administered to the newborn to prevent any bleeding. Vitamin K helps in clotting of blood, so should there be any bleeding, Vitamin K can help clot this and prevent bleeding.
9. Eye Care
Your baby’s eyes are extremely delicate and sensitive. Almost within an hour after birth, the doctor will put some eye drops to ensure that the baby’s eyes are free from any infection. Make sure you keep the baby’s eyes clean at all times. Use a damp cloth and some clean water to wipe your baby’s eyes.
10. BCG and Hepatitis B Vaccination
Every vaccination is important for your child, so mark the dates and make sure you get your child vaccinated. BCG offers protection against tuberculosis. The Hepatitis B vaccination is extremely important, as the disease is fatal.
Say goodbye to sleep after the birth of your newborn. You’ll see that newborn babies never sleep when you want them to, and always sleep when you don’t want them to. Most of the time, their sleeping cycle will leave you vexed and annoyed, but that is part of what motherhood is. Be patient; your child will sleep as and when he feels like it. If your child isn’t getting enough sleep, your child is probably in distress. Check the diapers, and see if he is hungry. Swaddling the baby and ensuring the house is calm are ways of helping your little one sleep well.
It is recommended that for the first week and a half, you give your child a sponge bath. Use a soft cloth and some warm water and wipe your baby clean. However, you can wash your baby’s face, hands and the genital area thoroughly with warm water, especially after a change of diapers.
The reason it is recommended that you wait for a week or so before bathing your baby is for the umbilical cord to dry. Once this has dried, it usually falls off. This is your cue to start giving your newborn baby a nice warm bath in a tub.
A lot of people bathe their babies on a daily basis, which is alright, but three days a week is more than enough as well. Keep in mind that your baby’s skin is extremely sensitive, and it is prone to dryness. So, excessive bathing can dry the baby’s skin.
Make sure the water is lukewarm, warm enough to soothe your baby, but cool enough not to burn. You can use a gentle soap that is mild enough, without the fear of causing an allergy or a negative reaction. You can ask your doctor for a recommendation on this one.
Make sure you keep an eye on your baby at all times, as your baby can slip in the bathtub. It is extremely easy for a baby to drown in a bathtub – less than sixty seconds is all it takes.
You don’t have to wash your baby’s hair every day; twice or thrice a week should suffice. Make sure you use a mild shampoo.
13. Physical Examination
Like APGAR, a physical examination after birth is necessary. The doctor will examine the child, to see if your baby is healthy.
14. Providing Warmth to Baby
Swaddling your baby is more important than you think. Keeping your baby warm helps in regulating the body temperature. A newborn child does not have as much fat as an adult or a grown-up kid has, and this is the case especially with premature kids as well as kids who are underweight. Make sure you wrap your child in warm clothes, especially if the climate in your area and the environment is cold. Wipe your child dry immediately after a bath, and make sure the baby is kept warm after this as well.
15. Circulatory & Physiological Respiratory Changes at Birth
While the baby is in the mother’s womb, the respiratory, as well as the circulatory systems, operate in a way which is very different from the way they will function after birth. The baby is dependent on the umbilical cord for the supply of oxygen. Circulatory modification and respiratory gas exchange take place rapidly during the process of labour and birth so that the baby can breathe outside the womb, and the heart functions normally.
The doctor slaps the baby’s bottom at birth to help clear the airways and encourage breathing. It is important to monitor the baby for 6-10 hours after birth, as several changes take place in the major organ systems in this period.
Motherhood is beautiful, but there is no denying the fact that it is tiresome, frustrating, and sometimes scary. Just give your baby all the love and care, and make sure you take good care of yourself too, and you are sure to have a memorable journey.
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