You may be shocked at how fragile your newborn looks particularly if you have little or no experience of holding a baby. You won’t necessarily know how to do it instinctively but it will help your confidence if you know you know the correct way of holding and handling your precious little newborn. Here’s how:
The first cuddle
Emotions are high and your baby will need reassuring. I recommend being propped up in a bed (usually a hospital one) and placing your newborn on your chest (on his tummy), particularly if you plan to breastfeed. There is nothing like skin to skin between mother and baby. I wouldn’t worry too much about the ‘how’s’ as there will be a midwife to help you, however, if skin to skin is important to you, ensure it is in your birth plan and you or your partner have told the midwife this.
Picking baby up
Your newborns head is large and heavy when compared to the rest of his body, his neck muscles aren’t strong enough to support the weight of it. When picking your baby up, slide one hand under his head and the other under his bottom, you can then manoeuvre him into the position you want. The most popular way of holding a baby is either cradling or placing him on your shoulder.
If you have picked your newborn up as stated above and you want to cradle, you will want your newborns head to rest in the arm that is supporting his head. To do this, bring your little one close to your chest, slide the hand that is holding his bottom up to support his head (so your arm is under his back), at the same time, slowly move the hand that was supporting his head around his body to his bottom, his head should now be resting on your arm and your other hand can be free. This position is perfect for eye contact, talking and sleeping.
On your shoulder
Your baby’s head can rest on your shoulder but it will need supporting if you are walking around or going up and down stairs etc. one hand will always need to be under his bottom supporting his weight. This position is great for closeness as your newborn may be able to feel your heartbeat and is also good for winding (burping).
Passing baby around Everyone will want to have a cuddle with your newborn and some will be more experienced than others, the safest way to pass a newborn to someone else is to have them sitting down with their arms in the cradle position, you then pick your baby up as stated above and gently place him into the other persons arms. This is particularly good for children or elderly people want a turn!
Try to handle your newborn confidently, this will help to reassure him and make him feel safe and secure. This is fundamental to having a content happy baby. Remember, never shake your baby, never throw (in play or otherwise) or drop him and always support his head. If you do that, you won’t go far wrong. I hope you found this post helpful.
Resources: kidshealth, wikihow
Nails typically need cutting within a week of your baby being born, they grow whilst in the womb and can be quite sharp or jagged. It can be quite nerve racking cutting them for the first time and you will worry about hurting your little one. Here is how to cut your newborns nails in a way that mitigates against hurting her, cutting her skin or causing infection:
Step by step guide to cutting nailsThe best time to do it is after a bath when your newborn is asleep, the nails will be much softer and your newborn will offer less resistance.For the first few times you may find it helpful to have someone else hold his/her arm steady so you can fully focus on what you are doing.You can use baby nail scissors, a nail file or baby nail clippers – personally I prefer to use scissors.For the first few times, rather than following the shape of your newborns finger tips, you can cut the nails straight.You can then use a nail file to file away the sharp edges.You should hold your baby’s hand so her palm is facing upwards and angle the scissors away from the skin.Pull down on the pads of your baby’s skin to help you to avoid snipping it.Never cut down the sides of the nails or cut them too short.
What if I accidentally cut the skin?
First of all, don’t panic. You are not the first person who will have done this. Your little one will be in pain but the important thing is to keep it clean and stop the bleeding. You can do this with a clean, wet cotton wool ball, apply gentle pressure to the affected area until it has stopped bleeding. You should never put a plaster or bandage on baby’s fingers as this could come off in her mouth when sucking them and end up choking her.
If you have a fussy baby, it could be a battle every time you try to cut her nails. Just remember, sometimes you have to be ‘cruel’ to be kind. 2-3 minutes of you cutting her nails is much better than her scratching her face several times throughout the day and night. Trust me, she will soon get used it.
References: webmd,NHS Bradford
The umbilical cord, which once supplied your baby with oxygen rich blood and nutrients is surplus to requirements once you have given birth.
Once the cord has been cut (clamped and snipped), your newborn will be left with a stump which is still connected to her navel (belly button). This stump of tissue needs to be cared for properly to avoid infection.
Keeping it clean
You should keep your newborns umbilical cord stump clean but also ensure it is kept dry and aired regularly. I personally recommend only top and tailing (avoiding baths) until the stump had fallen off.Do not use rubbing alcohol or soaps to clean your baby’s umbilical stump unless you have been specifically instructed to by a GP or health visitor/midwifeUse clean warm water and some cotton wool ballsGently rub the wet cotton wool ball around the stump, removing any dirt or grimeDry the area by gently patting it, placing an absorbent cloth on it or by fanning it with a piece of paper
Day to day care
There are four things you can do to help the stump fall off naturally whilst minimising the risk if infection.Ensure the area is completely dryAllow plenty of air to itFold your newborns nappy under the stump so it doesn’t aggravate itDon’t be tempted to help it along its way if it looks ready to fall off – even if it appears to be hanging on by a single thread!
What are the signs of an infection?
If your baby has an infection in this area, you will need to get it treated as soon as you can to prevent it from spreading.The signs of an infection are:There is a discharge which is quite smellyIt continues to bleed/li>There is yellow pus coming out if itThe surrounding area is red and appears swollenAlways contact your GP if you are not sure
There has been a lot if misleading information over the years, “Use rubbing alcohol”, “Don’t bathe them”, “Do bathe them” “Wash it at least once a day” etc. The general consensus seems to be, keep it clean and keep it dry and touch it as little as possible. If you do this, you can’t go far wrong.
Following a vaginal delivery it is not unusual for a newborns head to be slightly elongated. In fact, the bones inside your little ones skull are intentionally moveable, without this, it would be almost impossible to give birth naturally.
How long will it last
The elongated or cone shaped head caused by a vaginal delivery usually returns to a traditional head shape after around 48 hours. There is nothing you need to do to encourage this, it happens completely naturally. As well as the bone structure being mobile and allowing the skull to change shape, it may also be that your newborn has some slight swelling on the top of her head, this again is completely normal and is caused by fluids being squeezed towards the scalp during a natural delivery. This too will resolve itself within 48 hours.
What if it lasts longer than 48 hours
If after 48 hours you notice some lumps on the top of your baby’s skull, it may be that a collection of blood is present between your baby’s skull and the lining. This is known as cephalohematoma. It usually presents itself on day two and lasts for around 3 months, it isn’t something that needs to be treated or anything to worry about but is always worth mentioning to your health visitor, even if it’s just for additional reassurance.
My opinion: Whilst pregnant you are more than likely imagining a beautiful looking, perfect little boy or girl and it can be a shock when you see a bruised, bloody, cone head baby in front of you. Do not worry as this is completely normal, if you are concerned what people think then you should remind yourself that anyone who has given birth will not only know this is temporary but will probably have expected your newborn to look like this. Your baby is amazing and perfect and beautiful.
Hunger cues are easy to spot if you know what you are looking for, your baby is much more likely to feed well if he is fed at the early stage of feeling hungry rather than the late stage, this is because the hungrier he gets the more likely he is to be irritable or upset and he may not have a full feed because of it.
Stage one – Early signs your baby is getting hungryOpening and closing her mouthLicking her lips or smacking themSucking on her fingers, hands, toys, lips etc. (this is a reliable cue up to around 6-8 weeks)
Stage two – Signs your baby really needs feedingHe is ‘rooting’ on the chest or arm of the person holding himHe is fidgeting more than usualHe is trying to position himself for feeding (ie lying back or pulling you closer)He is repeatedly banging his arms or head against youHis breaths are shorter and faster
Stage three – You have left it too lateShe is frantically moving her head from side to sideShe is crying and is inconsolable
Feeding on demand is the best way to ensure your newborn never has hunger pains and never has to cry for her food. By spotting the early signs, or if not, the later signs (stage two), you are not only keeping your baby well nourished but boosting his confidence by letting him know he is able to influence the people around him to tend to his most basic of needs.