newborn babies

Reflexes

Newborn babies can sometimes look a little, well, strange at first. They have spent an average of 12 hours squeezing through the birth canal!

This means that their head can often be pointy, their eyes are still adjusting and many of their features will be squashed and swollen. Don't be alarmed, your baby has worked hard coming into the world and will take some time to adjust.

The head of newborn babies

The soft spots on your baby's skull, known as fontanelles, allow the head to compress enough to fit through the birth canal. There are two: the rear fontanelle, that will close up in around 4 months, and the front one, that will need more time: it will close between 9 months and 18 months after birth.

The skin of newborn babies

Newborn skin varies in appearance depending on how many weeks pregnant you were when your baby was born. Premature babies have thin skin and may be covered with lanugo, a fine, downy hair. Full-term and late babies will have only a few traces of vernix in the folds of their skin. Late newborn babies can also be a bit wrinkly and have very little, if any, lanugo. Birthmarks are common in newborns. About half of all babies are born with milia, white dots that look like very small pimples on their faces. These disappear in time. You can read further on baby skin care to protect your little one's skin. 

The hair of newborn babies

A newborns’ hair doesn't have much bearing on what your child's hair will eventually turn out like. It is not news that blondes turn into brunettes lots of times, and very dark-haired newborn babies can grow up to be blondes! Lots of newborn babies are completely bald when they are born, so you have to wait to know his actual hair colour. 

 

The eyes of newborn babies

Most Caucasian newborn babies are born with dark blue eyes and their true eye colour – brown, green, hazel or blue – may not be seen for a few months. Babies of African or Asian origin usually have dark grey or brown eyes at birth, their dark eyes turning brown or black after a while. Mixed race newborn babies can have different eye colours.

Hospital tests for newborn babies

After birth, newborn babies will have several tests and examinations to check that they are healthy and that all is well. Below is an outline of what your midwife and doctor will be looking for when they carry out the tests: 

  • Apgar score: This is one of the first things tested and is done by watching your baby's colour, breathing and behaviour, activity and posture. The test is done for one minute then again five minutes later. This will tell your midwife whether your baby has any immediate problems that need medical support. If your baby does need some help, your midwife will help him by clearing out his airways, sometimes giving him oxygen.



  • Measurements: About an hour after the birth, after you've had a cuddle with your baby, your midwife will also weigh your baby and measure the circumference of his head. The doctor or health visitor will provide the baby's red book with all these measurements added in.

 

And after, a full newborn examination

This is carried out within 72 hours of your baby's birth and is done by either your paediatrician, a trained midwife or GP. Newborn babies’ parents will be able to ask all the questions they need, since they will be present during the examination.

Be sure to mention any childhood problems common in your family to your practitioner – although he may ask you about it himself. The examination takes a head-to-toe look at your baby to check for any problems or conditions.



  • Head
: The doctor or midwife will look at the shape of your baby's head. Because your baby squeezed through the birth canal, a squashed head is a very common feature in newborn babies. This should right itself within 48 hours. 
    Sometimes when a birth requires extra help, with ventouse or forceps, there's a risk of bruises appearing on his head or skull bone (cephalhaematoma). But these should go on their own with time.

  • Ears and eyes
: The doctor or midwife will shine a light from an ophthalmoscope in your baby's eyes to look for a red reflex (his is the same as the red-eye effect from flash photography). If a red reflex is shown, cataracts are ruled out.

 Your baby may have a hearing test shortly after birth called an automated otoacoustic emission (AOAE) test. This can be carried out either in the hospital, a community clinic, or at home, and only takes a few minutes. It won't hurt your baby at all.

  • Mouth: To check that the roof of his mouth is complete and his sucking reflex is working your doctor or midwife will put a finger in your baby's mouth. She could find some conditions, like cleft pallet, that is a gap in the palate. This is a condition present in one in every 700 babies in the UK, and it requires surgery. Another possible condition would be tongue-tie, when the baby’s tongue remains more anchored to the bottom of his mouth. Your baby may be checked for this but often, your medical practitioner or midwife will only decide to do this if there is a persistent problem with your baby breastfeeding.

  • Heart
: In the first few days, your baby may experience some heart murmurs as his pattern of circulation undergoes a major change once he is born. The doctor or midwife will listen to your baby's heart with a stethoscope to exclude any extra sounds or heart murmurs.
    When your baby is in the womb, the two sides of his heart beat together. The moment his first breath is taken, the two sides begin to work separately. This means your baby's heart is working hard and may be enlarged but will settle down with time. Rest assured that heart murmurs often disappear on their own.

  • Lungs
: The doctor or midwife will listen to your baby's breathing pattern and lung function with a stethoscope. If they manage to hear an even air entry into the lungs clearly, it means that everything is fine.

  • Genitals
: Because newborn babies are exposed to the mum’s hormones before birth, their genitals may appear swollen and darker in colour. Baby girls may have a clear, white, or sometimes slightly bloody discharge from their vagina for the first few weeks due to these hormones. For boys, the scrotum is checked and the penis will be checked to ensure the opening is at the tip of the penis, and not on the underside. These hormones may also cause your baby to have slightly enlarged breasts, regardless of your baby's sex. 

The doctor or midwife will check your baby's bottom to ensure the opening is normal. You will probably be asked if your baby has had a wee or passed a dark coloured poo (meconium).



  • Skin
: Your baby's skin will be checked for birthmarks such as stork marks (reddish or purple V-shaped marks), Mongolian spots (bluish patches of darker pigment) or strawberry marks (raised red areas).



  • Hands and feet
: The doctor or midwife will check your baby's extremities, and he will count his fingers and toes and check them for webbing.

They will also check the baby’s palms to see if the palmar creases are there. 10% of the people have one palmar crease and 5% have it on both hands. Single palmar creases are sometimes associated with Down Syndrome. But do not worry: it is unlikely your baby would have Down syndrome, since there would also be other physical signs.

To check for clubfoot or talipes, where the front half of the foot turns in and down the examiner will check the resting position of  your baby's feet. Though if he has talipes, you may already be aware of it due to an utrasound. 



  • Spine
: It is quite common for newborn babies to have a sacral dimple, a dimple at the base of the spine. Most of the times it won’t be an issue. Occasionally, a deep sacral dimple may cause problems with the lower part of your baby's spinal cord and affect nerve function in this area. If your baby has a deep sacral dimple, they will will check for other symptoms, like leg weakness, incontinence and cold and blue feet.

  • Hips
: To check the stability of his hip joints, your baby's hips will be gently moved. By opening his legs wide, and then bending and unbending them, the doctor or midwife will be able to detect any instability. 



  • Reflexes
: Sucking, rooting and grasping are reflexes your baby is born with. The doctor or midwife will check these reflexes by monitoring him. If they are concerned or can't see the reflex, they will try to make the baby show it by testing the Moro reflex. They will let his head fall a little so he'll respond by flinging out both arms with his fingers spread and legs outstretched. The baby could cry as a result, but don’t worry!

What tests come after the full examination?

The majority of tests performed in newborn babies don't show any problems. For those that do, the issue will often resolve itself in time and without treatment. If there are concerns, further tests may be needed. 
If there are problems, identifying them earlier is very beneficial. Your doctor or midwife should give you information about the problem and answer any questions you may have.

The next routine test your baby will have is a heel-prick test around five days to eight days after the birth. Your midwife will carry out this test by taking a tiny amount of blood from your baby's heel. This blood sample will be tested for phenylketonuria (PKU), cystic fibrosis, MCADD, sickle cell disease and thyroid deficiency, among others.

Newborn babies may cry a little when the blood is taken, but they will recover very quickly.

 At 6-8 weeks your baby will have a postnatal check with your doctor. If you have any worries about your baby before then, you can always call so your midwife or doctor can check again and reassure you.

 

Need help? Ask other mummies in CaptainMums' forum!

 

Overall Rating (0)

0 out of 5 stars

Leave your comments

Post comment as a guest

0
  • No comments found

Activity Stream

Mika has liked an Album 2 months ago
Mika shared a photo. 2 months ago
Pearl147 started a new discussion Breast implants while breastfe... 2 months ago

Hi all, I am a mother of a 2-month-old baby. I would like to know if I can consider getting breast implants now. My breasts are kind of very small and I was thinking about it since my high school. After marriage, I talked about this to my husband and he was very supportive as he also preferred plus sized ones. During pregnancy, I did not undergo t...

monica987 started a new discussion Is it safe to breastfeed while... 3 months ago

Hi!! I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my pregnancy period. My OB/GYN said it is common to have this as the placenta makes hormones that can lead to sugar in the blood. He also said that after delivery I won't have diabetes. It's been 1.5 years after delivery and I thought of undergoing mommy makeover surgery from a clinic in...

Kristenevan commented on the album Evan 3 months ago
Kristenevan shared a photo. 3 months ago
Kristenevan added a reply in discussion 6 week old on friday ... 3 months ago

Does she also arch her back ? Can you lay him down after a feed and she keeps it down or does she spit up when laying aswell? My son projectile vomited after each feed , done everything in my power to see if it was my milk/formula doing it.. turns out he has acid reflux and he's now on infant gaviscon sachets and ranitidine oral solution , worth a...

Kristenevan is now ranked up to New Member... ! 3 months ago
Kristenevan added a reply in discussion 6 week old on friday ... 3 months ago

Does she also arch her back ? Can you lay him down after a feed and she keeps it down or does she spit up when laying aswell? My son projectile vomited after each feed , done everything in my power to see if it was my milk/formula doing it.. turns out he has acid reflux and he's now on infant gaviscon sachets and ranitidine oral solution , worth a...

Tonianne129 started a new discussion Feeding... 3 months ago

My baby girl is now just over 4 months old but was 5 weeks premature. She weighs around 9lbs and a half now. Over the past week or so she's been megga greedy. The other day she had a 10 oz bottle in 1 and was still wanting more. The day after she took 25oz in 8 hours, that's more than she should have in 34 hours! Health visitors have advised not to...

Kristenevan My son is coming up for 14 weeks , he has bad acid reflux and on medication but he's constantly hungry and he's on aptimal hungrier milk taking 7oz... Show more 3 months ago
loader
loader
Attachment
monica_chou started a new discussion Is it safe to undergo laser ha... 3 months ago

Is it safe to undergo laser hair removal during breastfeeding? My brother's marriage is on June 11, 2017, and I want to look the best. I hate hair on my arms, legs, and face. During pregnancy, I did not undergo this procedure as I was told not to do it by my OB/GYN. I shaved during that time. I don't want to do it again. I'm planning to consult a...

Ancuta alexandra has liked an Album 3 months ago
Ancuta alexandra shared a photo. 3 months ago
Ciobanitaraluca added a reply in discussion 6 week old on friday ... 3 months ago

After feeding keep him up and massage his back to help him burp and what i do with my daughter is an advise from my mom she raised me the same is a good thing to give baby after every meal at least 1 sip of tea.Atention:no sugar or sweetners in tea and i recommend PUKA DETOX from tesco with anissed fenel and cardamom these plants helps for colics a...

jada1 added a reply in discussion Eating problems... 3 months ago

not at all dear being mummy is not as easy as it is considered to be lol, however dont worry sometimes morning sickness even lingers up to 40th week so be composed and never ever skip any of your meal no matter what you feel after that as it is important for you as well as for the little life, to deal with dizziness I recommend "no to morning sickn...

jada1 is now ranked up to New Member... ! 3 months ago
jada1 added a reply in discussion 6 week old on friday ... 3 months ago

is she on formula?????...

ashley1 added a reply in discussion Morning sickness... 3 months ago

exactly your baby relies on you for his diet so be careful about it, morning sickness is a general symptom which every mom has to suffer from for a while during pregnancy, be composed as there are certain things that can really effectively subside it like "no to morning sickness tea" is a great curative drink for morning sickness, try it and feel b...

ashley1 is now ranked up to New Member... ! 3 months ago
ashley1 added a reply in discussion 6 week old on friday ... 3 months ago

is she breastfed? better if you contact GP and see what he advises, my elder one would also vomit very bad and I were asked to change her formula, I didn't see any change even with formula change but it'd gone itself when she got a little stronger, dont rely on me as every one is different but be calm as it isn't a serious issue, I would suggest yo...

brianna added a reply in discussion feel super unhealthy ... 4 months ago

I have managed to get to pre-pregnancy weight after the baby arrived with supplementing with "mummy magic tea", its herbal and good for both mom and the baby, just want to say that you have options even if you are bound to it which does not match your needs at the moment, nonetheless the worst thing you would be doing is skipping your meal as the b...

brianna is now ranked up to New Member... ! 4 months ago
brianna added a reply in discussion When to consider prenatal mass... 4 months ago

rest rest and rest, nothing better than having rest during pregnancy,...

some natural remedies for toddlers constipation, he is in a real pain for a few days. dont want to put him on medication

angelina_taylor started a new discussion When to consider prenatal mass... 4 months ago

Hey!! I'm happy to announce that I'm 8 weeks pregnant. This is our first child and we are super excited. I would like to know if it's common to have leg cramps, back pain, and swelling of legs during pregnancy. I have researched and saw prenatal massage therapy but I don't know when exactly should one consider this procedure. I have scheduled an ...