Congratulations Mom! Or almost mom. You have a lot to look forward to, and your life is about to change, permanently. But of course, you knew that. Here are some things you may not have known and should be aware of, about your new born baby.
29 Thing to Know About Your Baby, at Birth:
1. Yes, your baby is the cutest in the world! But rest assured (in case you get a little freaked out), he or she is just going to keep getting cuter... And you may eventually look back and admit that new born do look a little alien-ish.
2. They have dry peeling skin (and even lips), which gets worse in the first few weeks. It's from suddenly having to deal with air after being in a pool for 9 months.
3. They have lanugo, which often falls off by 3-4 months. Note, some kids are just hairy, my son's moustache turned out to be genetic and not lanugo! But of course it's still adorable!
4. Have you heard of the cone-shaped head? No jokes! During a natural birth the head takes the shape of your pelvis.
5. Baby acne, newborn rash, Mongolian butt (that's a kind of birth mark on baby's bottom that takes years to go - I would post a picture but I don't want my baby to hold it against me someday!) These are all terms that you will likely become familiar with.
6. Strawberry hemangioma, not as common, but still seen in 10% of babies, but can occur at birth or even after, on your baby's face or body. Basically, it's a blood vessel that got left behind (and is not in use) during fetal development. Unless it is in the way of your baby's vision (in which case show it to a doctor), leave it be. It will eventually fade away.
7. Your baby's skin is paper-thin. So be careful with the products you use, and with anything sharp that can hurt your little one. Do not use adult products on baby skin but you also do not have to buy into the craze and use all organic expensive products. The good old johnson and johnsons smells the best (if you like that baby smell) and works for most. If your baby has eczema or a skin sensitivity, then switch to all natural, but don't worry about the tried and tested baby stuff hurting your baby.
8. Baby nails - can scratch you and the baby. They also grow at a superhuman speed! Pack some little nail files in your hospital bag, or mittens, as your little one is likely to be born with claws. This is just for fingernails though, the toes grow at a super slow rate (Yipee for small mercies). Mittens and socks will also keep those cold (and sometimes blue) hands and feet warm.
9. Are you one of those lucky ones whose baby was born with a full head of hair? (And like me, was gasping and burping with heartburn for almost the full 9 months). Try not to brag too much, these newborn locks often shed and fall, thanks of course to your hormones (and friction from all that time baby spends on its back.)
10. Be grateful for those locks though, they will cover the cradle cap (which is basically baby dandruff), that occurs also due to your hormones around 3 months of age. It can stay for what feels like forever. Don't be tempted to oil it, oil is what is causing it.You can use oil to help you scrape off scales but do not leave it on for long. Medela has a cradle cap cream that worked wonders for me. For more on what to shop and where to start
11. In three months, your baby will look completely different. That doesn't mean that if baby has daddy's nose their bone structure will change and they will suddenly have mommy's. However, the proportions change, the eyes open and the face structure becomes more defined. (Plus they chub up!) so enjoy the journey..that's when you can really start arguing about who your baby looks like.
12. Meconium, or newborn poo, is hard, sticky and black. If it's touched your fingers (not on purpose of course), you will learn that while it isn't smelly, it's a lot like tar. It's been building up in their bodies for months, and some babies do poo in utero. Your doctor will be able to tell if it's in your water (when it breaks) and decisions will have to be taken appropriately. (That sounds gross I know but at that point even your mucus covered baby is nothing but beautiful.)
13. Expect one poop and one pee in the first twenty four hours. Two of each in the next twenty four, three each in the 24 hours after that. At which point, once your milk kicks in, or formula if that's the case, you will have a more predictable pattern. Not all babies stick to the schedule but that's the minimum to expect - we had one pee and 6 poops in the first 24 hours (make your hubby change all these while u rest of course).
14. Your baby may be born wide awake, but may also, like most babies, sleep for the first 24 hours. Wake your baby to nurse, as the more often you nurse (even if it's for a few minutes at a time), the sooner your milk will come in.
15. Also, don't assume this calm sleepy nature is the norm. Your little one is just tired from all that pushing and the sudden sensory overload. You won't be able to judge anything till you get home, and often not until after the first 3 weeks.
16. While day 1 is for sleep, day 2 and 3 may be filled with tears and even hunger, while your milk comes in. Be strong and for breastfeeding moms, resist the temptation to supplement, please! If you keep latching your baby to you, your milk will come quicker (yes, there are exceptions, but do not give up easily or early), but the time spent on a bottle is that much less time your child is spending on stimulating your milk to come in.
17. While your milk comes in, your baby is getting colustrom, which is full of antibodies and very very healthy. And your baby's belly is the size of a little marble at birth, so even a little of that is enough to sustain them.
18. If you have a colicky newborn, do yourself a favor and find time to skim (if not read) Dr. Harvey Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block. I know you have enough going on and some of you are reading blogs to avoid reading full books (and for most of you, my blog should help you avoid having to read anything else), but for colicky babies, understand what the 5S's are - they will help you get some Z's in.
19. If your baby has little boobs (even for boys), or some vaginal bleeding (just for girls, it's a baby period), or acne, don't panic. These are all little gifts we are giving them through our hormones. It's just part of the deal with all the antibodies and good stuff we are passing on as well. It will all go away before you know it.
20. You know that sensitive baby skin? It can also feel things a lot more intensely than our thicker skin can. So don't be afraid to cuddle your baby, massage him or her, and use your hands to show your affection. It will help you both bond, help release positive hormones, make your baby feel safe, and make your little one know they are loved.
21. Don't be afraid to hug, cuddle, pick up your baby (even the second it cries). There is no way to spoil a newborn! Infants, and toddlers on the other hand, are a whole other ballgame. Make the most of this while it lasts, you will miss it once your baby is throwing tantrums just to make you come running.
22. Did you finally fall asleep, in the same room as your baby, just to be woken up by whistling, sneezing, snorting, whining, even crying? Wait a minute before rushing in and actually waking up your baby. Newborns are noisy sleepers! (more on baby sleep.
23. Pacifiers and bottles are great (Seriously, I pumped and nursed so I almost never had to feed in public), but do not introduce them until 1 month if you are nursing, as your baby can get confused between the nipples and have trouble latching on to you. They can also affect your milk supply, if introduced early.
24. And yes, I did say pacifiers are great. My child never took to it, but for the few weeks that he did, it saved me from being a human pacifier (it didn't last long though). There are pros and cons here - the cons are that your child should be weaned off this young or it can affect their teeth and increase the chances of ear infections, it needs to be kept really clean, it is difficult to wean a child off this, and can actually reduce the sleep you get because babies keep waking up if this falls out of their mouth. On the flip side, it may buy you some quiet, and your baby will not sleep as deeply (which helps reduce the risk of SIDS).
25. Babies are born with an awareness of what their mothers may smell like, they know what we sound like, and within an hour of birth, they will be able to pick us out from anyone else due to our sound and the now confirmed smell.
26. They are also able to smell and taste the things we eat, in utero, so keep that in mind while you are fulfilling your cravings. (My little one may want to spend his life eating Taco Bell, and salted chips mixed in chocolate cake, I will keep you updated on this though!)
27. There will be times you will want to send your baby right back in, and will find no human way to do that. Ask your spouse, or mother (who is probably your greatest resource right now), to step in and help so you can sleep (that is, until the next feed).
28. Your baby's first graduation will be here before you know it, they will be an infant instead of new born after the first 3 months.
29. It's all worth it in the end, and often in the middle and beginning too. Believe it!
For more on your new baby, your body, and dealing with it all
All photographs in this article are original and contributed by author.