Your baby is finally here! As you hold him in your arms, here is what you need to know about your bundle of joy.
WORDS ANGEL DREWGUS
Congratulations on the arrival of your brand new bub! As you settle down into your new role as a mum, here are just some of the things you need to know about your newborn.
Baby’s Heart Rate, Breathing and Temperature
The heart rate of a newborn is much faster (almost 1.5 times faster) than that of an adult. A baby’s heart rate is considered slow if it goes below 90 beats/min and is considered high if it is above 160 beats/min.
A newborn’s breathing can vary throughout the day. In general, if your baby is taking deep breaths such that you can see his ribs clearly, or if your baby has to stop in between feeds in order to catch his breath, it would be considered abnormal.
The best way of measuring the temperature for your newborn is to use a thermometer placed in the armpit. A temperature equal to or more than 38 degrees Celsius is considered fever. You should bring your baby to see a doctor if he has a fever, advises Dr Christelle Tan, registrar, Department of Neonatal & Developmental Medicine, SGH.
What to Expect in Your Baby’s Diaper
Colourless or light-yellow coloured urine and poo. What is helpful to know is that the colour of a baby’s stool changes from green to yellow (transition) usually after three to five days of life.
Pale coloured (off white) stools are abnormal and
should be highlighted to your doctor immediately, advises Dr Tan.
Often, in the first few days of life, there can be pinkish stains on the diaper often mistaken for blood. These are urate crystals which are common in newborns. These crystals indicate that your baby needs more fluids (in the form of milk). It will become normal once your baby is well hydrated.
Occasionally, says Dr Tan, there may be some bleeding from the vaginal area of newborn baby girls in the first few days of life and that can be alarming to parents. This is associated with the withdrawal of maternal hormones in their bloodstream after birth, which is very normal.
Time for a Feed
So how often should your baby be taking feeds? It depends on how much your baby takes each time, as they may feed every two to four hours.
Most babies will demonstrate hunger cues when they are due for a feed. These can be in the form of sucking on their fingers/hands, licking or smacking their lips and showing signs of searching for the breast when carried. Crying is often a late hunger cue and should be avoided as much as possible.
Is Baby Drinking Enough?
After the first week of birth, your baby should be drinking either breast milk or formula (60 to 90mls), sleep for two to three hours after a good feed, pass urine four to six times a day, have yellow or mustered coloured stool and gain 150-200 grams of weight per week. These are indicators that your baby is getting enough milk, explains Dr Pradeep Raut, a paediatrician & neonatologist, from Kinder Clinic, Parkway East Hospital.
If mothers experience any difficulty in latching on or if the
baby seems unsettled after each feed, mothers are advised to seek
help from a lactation consultant.
Let’s Talk Sleep
Generally, babies tend to sleep 14 to 16 hours per day until six months of age, explains Dr Raut. Thereafter, their average sleeping hours may reduce to 13.5hrs when they’re about a year old. However, babies should be able to self-awaken for their feed every three to four hours and it would be unusual for a baby to sleep past a feed to the next. If you find difficulty waking your baby when his feed is due, you should consult your doctor.
How many naps does your baby need to have? In the newborn period, babies do not have a sleep-wake cycle and will usually awaken for a feed every two to three hours. They fall asleep readily after a feed and hence your baby is likely to take an average of eight naps in a day.
Hush Now, Baby
Your baby will no doubt cry and they do so for many different reasons. Common reasons would include times when they feel uncomfortable especially with a soiled diaper, when they are hungry and due for a feed, or when they just want to be carried.
However, it is unusual for a baby to be crying continuously for more than three hours in a day or be inconsolable despite being fed adequately and all other sources of discomfort addressed. If this occurs, it would be advisable to see a doctor, advises Dr Tan.
I See a Smile!
Babies start smiling to themselves when they are sleeping during the first couple of weeks. These smiles are more of a reflex in the early days. A purposeful social smile in response to a familiar face usually develops around four to six weeks of age, explains Dr Raut.