Caring for your newborn (2)

Caring for your newborn (2)

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Contd. from last week

After reading the first part of this piece a reader sent this question via my e-mail address: Dear doctor, I noticed hair growth in the private part of my six-month-old baby. How do I get rid of the hair? Have you seen anything like this before?

Response: Thanks for the feedback. These are cases that we see from time to time and there is no cause for alarm because the hair growth is normal in most cases. The most likely reason is that when babies are inside the womb, they absorb a lot of their mother’s hormones, and when those hormones start to fade, the body realises that the baby doesn’t need them and the hair starts falling out.

However, where the facilities are available, a comprehensive work up such as hormonal tests or abdomino-pelvic scan may be done to rule out any abnormality.

Colic

Many babies cry for up to three hours, or sometimes more a day in the early weeks. This occurs mostly at nights when the mother is probably tired and trying to catch some sleep. Most babies like being held and comforted, though some babies still cry when they are being held. Remember that every baby is different.

Teething

Most babies get their first tooth between six and nine months. Some may have it earlier from four months upwards and some may not start before they are one year old. Once teething starts, it continues almost uninterrupted for about two years. Some babies have no difficulty with teething, while others may become fussy and uncomfortable.

Relieve sore or tender gums by giving your baby a clean teething ring (teether). Clean and massage the gums regularly to ease discomfort.

Baby’s stools

Very young breastfed babies usually do several poops a day. Even if your baby seems to be pushing hard, the poop is usually very soft. After a few weeks, some breastfed babies only have a poop every few days and it will still be soft. All this is normal.

Baby’s urine

A little light pink or orange stain from urine on the nappy is common and is nothing to worry about. It is caused by a reaction between chemicals in the baby’s urine (urates) and chemicals in the fibres of the nappy.

It is more likely in boys because their stream of wee (urine) is more likely to be all in the same place on the diaper. If it is red or leaves a brown stain, that is, if it looks at all like blood or your baby seems unwell and is not feeding normally, you need to have him/her checked by a doctor.

Sometimes, there can be small ‘crystals’ on the inner surface of a disposable nappy. These come from the inside of the nappy, not from the baby.

Vaginal blood loss

Some female babies have a small vaginal blood loss a few days after birth. This loss is due to the change in hormone levels after birth, causing a brief ‘menstrual period.’ This bleeding stops after a day or two.

There will not be any more vaginal blood loss until the girl reaches puberty and starts to have periods. It is due to influence of the mother’s hormones in the baby’s blood. This decreases with time and baby will be alright.

Jaundice

Jaundice appears in about half of full term babies and most of pre-term babies. A yellow coloured substance in the baby’s blood causes the skin and the whites of the eyes to take on a yellowish tinge called jaundice. In most infants, jaundice is mild. It comes on during the first three to five days and lasts only a few days. The only treatment needed initially is lots of breastfeeding and later, phototherapy. Untreated severe jaundice can lead to brain damage and deafness.

Immunisation

Immunisations help to protect children from many diseases. Other words for immunisation are inoculation, vaccination, booster, and shots. Immunisation helps the baby’s immune system to make substances (antibodies) that fight diseases. The baby then develops protection against these diseases.

Sometimes, immunisation may cause minor side effects, but these are temporary. These side effects might be soreness or swelling where the needle went into the arm or leg, or a slight fever. These do not usually last long. Serious side effects from immunisations are very rare.

Eye treatment

Paediatricians recommend that all newborns receive treatment to prevent an infection of gonorrhoea or Chlamydia. These infections can get into the baby’s eyes during birth. Eye drop/ointment is usually used to treat a baby’s eyes if the discharge is copious. If not treated, these infections are severe and can cause blindness.

Ear infection

Middle ear infection is called otitis media. Children can also get infection in the ear canal (called otitis externa), which causes pain, ear discharge, fever and distress. It is one of the reasons why children may wake at night. Ear infections can also affect a child’s hearing.

Fever

Fever is usually caused by an infection. The source of the infection can be bacteria or a virus. Fever is the normal process of fighting an infection. Babies less than six months old should be taken to the hospital if they have a fever.

Give your baby a tepid sponging or lukewarm bath. Not every sick baby will have a fever, especially if they are less than one month old. Some signs of a sick baby may be poor feeding, excessive crying or being irritable.

Your baby’s body temperature changes throughout the day. It is lowest in the early morning and highest in the early evening. Normal temperature taken in newborn under the armpit is 36.5°C to 37.4°C which is slightly higher than adult values.

Circumcision

Circumcision is the removal of the flap of skin which naturally covers the tip of the penis. It can be painful for the child, both at the time of the operation and even some days after. Male Circumcision reduces risks of urinary tract infection in infancy and reduces the risk of HIV/AIDS later in life. The babies are placed on paracetamol after the procedure.

Female circumcision is harmful and is not allowed medically. It could make childbirth more dangerous.

Remember, never shake a baby or throw him/her up! It can lead to seizure, brain damage and death.

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