Here are some answers to the top ten questions you may have as the parent of a newborn.
1. Does my baby have a cold?
Many, if not most, newborns have a congested nose and frequent sneezing for the first month or so. Unless your baby has difficulty with feeding or sleeping due to nasal congestion, you do not have to use the nasal bulb syringe. In fact, if you use it frequently, you may irritate the nasal lining and make the congestion last longer. You may use some nasal saline drops to moisten the nostrils to provide some relief to the blocked nose, otherwise it will resolve on its own.
2. What about my newborn’s peeling skin?
It looks so dry - should I use lotion? Peeling is normal and no lotion is necessary, nor will it make any difference. Also, the baby may have some pimple-looking spots on the face and neck. That is normal too and does not require any treatment.
3. My baby breathes noisily when he/she sleeps. Is that okay?
Normal newborn breathing can seem strange. Sometimes they will stop breathing for a second or two and then breathe very quickly for several seconds. Sometimes they sound funny because they snort due to a congested nose (see #1). Sometimes they make a high pitched whistle when they breathe, due to a flexible wind-pipe (laryngomalacia). However, if you see very fast breathing (more than 70 times a minute) that persists, or you have worries about his or her breathing, don’t hesitate to contact us.
4. When does the stump on his/her bellybutton fall off?
Normally, the stump will fall off in the first few weeks of life. A bit of yellowish wet coating at the site of the cord that dries over a few days is normal, as long as the skin around the base of the cord remains a normal color
(if it becomes increasingly red, call us immediately). A few drops of blood on the diaper or clothing as the cord is falling off is also normal. Sometimes you can detect a slightly acrid smell which is normal.
5. How many bowel movements are normal?
Breastfed newborns generally have 3 or more bowel movements per day. Formula fed infants generally have at least 1 bowel movement per 24 hours. But some infants can have up to 20 per day and still be normal. Breastfed stool is extremely loose. It could be described as watery and mustard like – this is normal. Formula fed stool may be more pasty. Any color from bright yellow to green to brown is normal. By age 3 to 6 weeks, the frequency of stool decreases (even once a week for a breastfed infant at this age can be normal as long as it is soft and passes easily).
6. Is the discharge from my baby girl’s vagina normal?
Yes, it may be clear, white or bloody, and it results from withdrawal from the mother’s hormones. You don’t have to wipe it away, but you can if you want to (top to bottom).
7. Is it normal for my nipples to hurt (for breastfeeding mothers)?
It is normal in the first week to have pain for the first 1-2 seconds of latch on, but if you have pain in the nipples beyond the first second or two, ask us about it. Breastfeeding should not be painful.
8. Is it normal that my baby lost weight after birth?
Yes, most babies lose weight after birth and this is normal. We will measure your baby at your visit after discharge from the hospital. At the visit we will help you assess your baby’s milk input and help you determine if he/she is feeding adequately. We will let you know of any concerns we have and how we will monitor your baby’s progress.
9. When should my next appointment be?
What should I be concerned about? Usually 2 days after you leave the hospital, we would like to see you in the office to check your baby. Call immediately if your baby has a fever higher than 100.4 (only take the temperature if your baby seems warmer than usual), is irritable, lethargic or not feeding well.
10. How can I keep my baby safe from infectious diseases?
The closest people to the baby are you, the parents, so it is from you that diseases are most easily transmitted. Protect yourself and the baby by getting flu immunizations during flu season and get immunized with Tdap, which protects you and the baby against whooping cough. Do not expose your baby to any person who has signs and symptoms of illness or has had a recent history of being sick.