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Your New baby

EFP-image2Take your new baby in your arms and hold him as soon as possible after birth so that you can start to bond. Your baby will begin to learn about you, and how much you love him, as he hears your voice, smells and feels your skin and is cuddled by you.

You’re likely to feel many new emotions when you see your newborn baby’s tiny vulnerable body and realise his complete dependence on you. The way you react and what you do in these first moments are probably the most important interactions there will ever be between you and your child.
Research shows that parents who can cuddle and be with their baby immediately after delivery tend to be more sympathetic to their children’s needs lat5er. Parents whose babies are taken away from birth may feel alienated for a while, but if this does happen to you don’t worry- just start bonding with your baby as soon as you’re able to.

What your baby will look like
Newborn babies vary greatly in how much they weigh and how long they are. Average weights for a baby are generally from 2.5 to 4.5 kg (5lb 8oz- 9lb 12oz), and average lengths are from 48-51 cm (19-20 inch).

Your newborn’s head will be one-quarter of this length and it’ll look large compared with the rest of his body. The younger the baby the larger the head is in proportion with the rest of his body. On average a newborn baby’s head measures about 35 cm (14inch) round. His head will be measured after birth and this is an important check because the growth of his head is linked to the development of his brain.

New born baby’s head usually looks pointed because it has been moulded as it came though the birth canal. Moulding is caused by the skull bones overriding each other. Sometimes this pressure also leaves one or both sides of the baby’s head slightly swollen. This swelling doesn’t affect your baby’s brain and it goes away within a few weeks. If your baby was delivered by forceps or a vacuum, he may have some slight bruising. You’ll feel a soft spot on top called, a fontanelle, where the skull bones haven’t yet joined and won’t until your baby is 18 months old.

Some babies are born completely covered in a greasy, white substance called vernix caseosa. Others have vernix only on their face and hands. Vernix makes it easier for your baby to slide through the birth canal and help protect him against minor skin infections. The vernix used to be cleaned off right away, but most hospitals now prefer to let it rub off the skin naturally, which happens within two or three days.
Your baby circulation takes a little while to settle down. While this is happening, the top half of his body may look paler than the bottom half, but this is nothing to worry about.
Your baby may have some downy hair on his body. This is called lanugo hair and it covered his body while he was in your womb. Some babies only have lanugo hair on their head, but others may have hair on their shoulder. Both are quite normal and their hair usually rubs off within a couple of weeks.
More permanent hair will appear later. Some babies are born with a full head of hair but others are completely bald. If your baby is born with hair it, might not be the colour he eventually ends up with.
Hands and feet
These may have a slightly more bluish look than the rest of his body because his circulation hasn’t quite got going.
He may have dry patches with peeling skin, which will disappear in a few days. His fingernails may be long and sharp; gently nibble of the tips if he’s scratching himself, but don’t cut off the nails.

Your baby eyes may be puffy because of pressure on his head during the birth and he may not be able to open them at first. This pressure may also have broken some tiny blood vessels in his eyes, causing harmless red marks in the whites. These will soon disappear. Your baby can see clearly to a distance of 20-25cm or so.

Get to know your baby
Spend as much time as you can playing with your baby. It is vital to his development.
Try to recognise her needs you will soon start to understand her different expressions. When he’s content he’ll look tranquil and quiet. When he’s feeling miserable or uncomfortable he’ll look rather red and flustered. Play together. Don’t worry about looking silly when you’re playing with baby. Pull funny faces and use high –pitched voices telling him how much you love him. He’ll answer by nodding, moving his mouth, maybe sticking out her tongue, and jerking his body.

What your new baby can do
Your baby has his own very special personality and he may surprise you with what he can do. Spend as much time as you can with his, and you’ll soon get to know every little expression and sound he makes.

Posture and senses
At first your baby’s head is too heavy for his back and neck muscles to support. All his postures when not lying down are governed by him developing the ability to control his head. If you put your baby on his back he’ll probably turn his head to one side. Stretch out his arm on that side and flex the opposite arm towards his chest. When he is a week old he’ll raise his head in small jerks when he’s supported on your shoulder. At six weeks he’ll probably hold up his head for more than a minute.
From birth, he has a fairly good sense of; hearing, smell and taste. At first, he mainly touches things with his mouth. He’ll soon recognise you by smell, and by sight, too within a couple of weeks. When you hold baby close to you for the first time he’ll focus on your face and look into your eyes. Babies like looking at faces more than anything else. Hearing high-pitch human voices gives him great pleasure, and he’ll like yours and your partner’s deeper one, more than any others.

Reflex actions
Step reflex: If you hold your baby under his arm and let her feet touch a firm surface, he’ll make stepping movements.

Grasp reflex: Your baby’s fingers will tightly grasp anything that’s placed in his palm. His grasp is so strong that his whole body weight can be supported if he grabs your fingers with his hands. The soles of his feet will also curl over if they’re touched or tickled.