Your newborn baby is completely reliant on you. Unlike, say, a newborn foal which struggles to its feet almost the second it’s born, a newborn human is uniquely vulnerable. Your baby will require you to do everything for her – to carry her, feed her and keep her safe and clean. She won’t even start to try to walk until she’s nearly a whole year old. During her first year, the neurons in her brain will make millions and millions of connections. In this year, more than any other in her whole life, she will absorb more and learn more than she ever will again. The amount of love and care you give her during this time is of huge importance. Science shows clearly now that this foundation will impact on her ability to become a happy, independent and resilient adult.
The fourth trimester describes baby’s first 12 weeks, or three months, of life – it’s a period of attachment. Your baby is learning about you, and you are learning about him. Parenting experts recommend that babies are carried constantly, and fed on demand, as they were in the womb.
You newborn baby will probably have a big head, no visible neck, big bodies and tiny arms and legs. She might have a pointy head from coming through your birth canal. Her skull will have soft spots on it – known as fontanelles. Her hands and feet may be a little blue at first as well. She may be bald, or have a surprising amount of hair. If she’s Caucasian her eyes will probably be dark blue – and get their adult colour much later. Most babies of African or Asian descent have dark grey or brown eyes. She will be covered with a greasy white goo known as vernix – and premature babies will have this too, probably along with fine downy hair called lanugo.
Yes your baby will have what’s called an Apgar test immediately after her birth then she will be weighed and measured (length and head circumference), heart and lungs, spine, hips - the midwife at the birth and later the hospital pediatrician and obstetrician check you both before you are discharged from a hospital. If you have a homebirth in the UK, your midwife will do all these checks.