Newborns: not always so picture-perfect


The first week of your baby’s life flies past and it is in that week that baby’s appearance will change dramatically.

Why not document this transformation by taking pictures every day? After normal birth your baby’s first appearance might not be as angelic as you’d hoped for – C-section babies have a major lead in the looks department at first.  But don’t let that stop you from recording these precious moments of her development.

Unfurling body

Your baby’s arms and legs have been compressed in your uterus for a very long time and it is only natural that they’d need time to uncurl in the first and second week.

Cones, caputs and flat-topped heads

With normal birth it is common for your baby to have a swollen face, wonky and pointy or cone head. A pointy head is called moulding, which is what happens when babies squeeze through the birth canal. Newborns’ heads often measure 1cm less a few days after birth than directly after birth. Your baby’s head should return to normal in one to two weeks.

Fontanels are soft spots on your baby’s head, which is covered by strong, thick skin or a membrane to protect his brain. For your baby’s skull to be able to pass through the birth canal, these fontanels (one in the front, and one in the back of your baby’s skull), compress. These fontanels also make space for your baby’s fast-growing brain. Back fontanel takes six months to close, while the one in front takes one to two years.

A caput is a swollen part on the head often found in newborns. The caput is formed when the head of the newborn exerts pressure on the dilating cervix during delivery.

When your baby is born bottom first (breech presentation), her head could have a flat appearance at the top moments after birth.

Hairy and cheesy red, pink and yellow skin
Premature babies’ skin are thin and covered with lanugo (the fine downy hair covering a human foetus; normally shed during the ninth month of gestation) – and vernix (a white cheeselike protective material that covers the skin of a foetus, protecting it from amniotic fluid). The farther along you are before giving birth, the less lanugo and vernix your baby will have.

Your baby could be born with a purple-red skin, but this can quickly change into a rosy pink colour during the first week. Your baby’s normal skin colour will only be seen after about half a year.

Yellowish skin is usually an indication of jaundice. This is very common, with more than 50% of all newborns suffering from jaundice, as their bodies break down extra red blood cells. Milia is also very common with 40% of babies having milia at birth. Milia manifests as white or yellow dots on the face that looks like pimples. Don’t despair, this will disappear in week three or four.

What’s happening in the middle?
Your baby could lose some weight in the first week but quickly picks it up in the weeks that follow. The umbilical cord falls off between ten and twenty days, giving way to a cute bellybutton.

Not so bright eyed and bushy tailed
The colour, thickness and texture of your baby’s hair at birth are no indication of what it will eventually look like. It is common for baby’s hair colour to change from blonde to brunette, red to blonde, etc. Fine curly hair can turn into thick, course hair in the first six months.

Eyes can be swollen and puffy from delivery. As far as colour goes, most Caucasian newborns have gray-blue eyes, and it can take six to nine months for the true colour to surface. In African-American, Asian and Hispanic babies, dark gray-brown eyes are common that don’t change in colour later all that much.

Ears and nose
The cartilage in your baby’s ears will still be soft, giving ears a floppy appearance with some edges even bent over. Eventually the cartilage will become harder and the ears will become more defined. That little nose can appear swollen, flat and skew from the pressure of labour, which will go back to normal within the first week.

Down there
Because of a hormone high in your body just before birth, your baby’s genitals and breasts could be swollen.


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