Newborn Baby Care in Raleigh, NC
You’ve just welcomed a new life into the world. Congratulations! Pediatric Partners’ staff looks forward to providing the best infant health care for you and your new child for years to come.
As a new parent, you may have many questions and concerns about proper newborn care and other popular topics such as breast feeding and crying.
There is no substitute for the real-world experience that all new parents come to earn. A general overview on common infant health care topics is below. Experience and guidance will give you confidence and peace of mind during the days and long nights ahead.
Simply click on the links below to learn more about what to expect with your newborn baby. Please contact our office at (919) 787-9555 with any additional questions or appointment needs.
During the first few weeks at home with your baby, you will likely feel overwhelmed, tired, and emotional. This is totally normal. The key to surviving this trying time is asking for help and prioritizing your activities. Mom should try to sleep when baby sleeps, whether day or night. Activities such as cleaning, laundry and cooking are things that other people can help with or things that can wait.
Make sure that you are eating and drinking enough and continuing to take your prenatal vitamins. If the father is involved, he can be helpful in caring for the baby even if mom is breastfeeding. If the father is not involved, enlist the help of other family members or good friends. Everyone loves to hold a baby, so let them help!
More than 50% of women experience postpartum blues shortly after delivery, likely due to changing hormones. These feelings usually get better within 1-3 weeks and activities that can help include talking about your feelings, getting out of the house, getting sleep and getting help with household chores. Sometimes these blues don’t resolve quickly and sometimes they become more severe and require medical intervention. We will have you fill out a questionnaire about your feelings at several visits in the office to make sure you are feeling okay. If you are ever concerned about how you are feeling, please call our office or your obstetrician’s office right away. Help is available to you.
During the first 2 months of your baby’s life, he or she is very susceptible to infections. It is important that you try to limit the amount of germs he is exposed to. We recommend avoiding crowded places with lots of children such as church nurseries and family reunions during this time period. It is fine to have people visit and hold the baby, just ask them to wash their hands and to refrain from contact if they are sick. It is fine to take your baby for walks outside and to run occasional errands with you.
We will see your baby in one or two days after you leave the hospital and then again as needed until we are comfortable with weight gain. We will also see your baby at 3 weeks of age. Inevitably, a lot of questions will arise when you are home and we are happy to answer them. We suggest your write your questions down and bring them with you because it is easy to forget when you are tired.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding your baby for the first year of life. We support this position but we also understand that in some situations, this is not feasible. Generally we recommend name brand formulas, but we can discuss other options with you at your visits. Lactation specialists are available to you at the hospital, and we have one in our office, Heather, to assist once you are discharged from the hospital.
Most babies lose weight during the first few days of life while we are waiting for mom’s milk to come in. It is very important to breastfeed your baby soon after birth and very frequently during the first few days of life to establish a good milk supply in mom. You will start to notice an increase in the baby’s urine output and a change in stool color as mom’s milk changes from the early colostrum to mature milk. It is helpful to record when your baby was fed and when you changed diapers so we can assess the quality of the feedings. Most babies do not lose more than 10% of their body weight while waiting for the milk to come in. On rare occasions we will suggest supplementing with formula during those first few days, but this will be a collaborative decision with you, your provider, and lactation specialist.
During the first few days of life it is normal for a substance called bilirubin to increase in a baby’s blood stream. Bilirubin is a break-down product of red blood cells, which babies have in great number in utero. After delivery those cells are quickly broken down and in order to get rid of the bilirubin it must go through the liver and be excreted into the baby’s stool. While the baby’s liver is “revving” up, there is a transient rise in the level of bilirubin which causes the baby’s eyes and skin to look yellow or orange (jaundice).
The reason that we follow bilirubin levels and skin color is that if the level becomes quite high it can cause developmental problems in the brain. We will keep seeing your baby back in the office after hospital discharge until the jaundice is resolving. If at any point the level goes higher than we would like, we will start her on phototherapy. Phototherapy is the use of special lights built into a bed or blanket that helps to breakdown the bilirubin while waiting for the liver to catch up. This can usually be done at home but occasionally requires hospitalization.
A few risk factors for higher bilirubin levels during the first few days of life include prematurity, blood group differences between mom and baby, significant bruising of the baby during delivery, and liver disease in the baby.
Your baby should not be immersed in water until the umbilical cord has fallen off and the area is free from oozing or bleeding. Until then a sponge bath every 3 or 4 days is quite sufficient to keep your baby clean. Once the cord does fall off, your baby still does not need daily baths although some parents like to use bath time as part of a soothing bedtime routine, and this is fine. When bathing, a gentle, tear-free soap can be used for the body and hair such as Johnson’s head-to-toe or other similar products. Your baby’s skin does not routinely need lotions, creams or powders.
Diaper changes should be done frequently to help avoid rashes. During the first few weeks to months of life, your baby will have frequent, loose stools and these can lead to skin breakdown around the anus regardless of how vigilant your are about diaper changes. If this does occur, we recommend a barrier diaper cream with zinc oxide in it or a clear ointment such as Vaseline or aquaphor. As your baby becomes older different types of diaper rashes can occur. If a few days of barrier ointment does not cure a diaper
rash, be sure to come in for evaluation.
Fingernails and toenails grow quickly in babies. Thankfully, toenails are quite thin and seem to just break off without much intervention. Fingernails, on the other hand, require almost daily trimming or filing at first in order to keep babies from scratching faces or eyes. Some parents prefer to file the fingernails and that is fine as well.
Babies cry for a variety of reasons, and your job as a parent is to try to figure out the reason and intervene if possible. The easy reasons are hunger, dirty or wet diaper, being tired, temperature discomfort or pain. If these reasons are ruled out, it may be normal crying or colic. About 10% of babies have colic, or unexplained crying. It usually begins around 3 weeks of age and subsides by 3 months of age. Typically, the crying starts late in the day and ends when the baby exhausts himself late at night. If this is happening, it is worth a visit to the office so we can make sure that there is not another reason for the crying.