Coming home from hospital with your newborn
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Rebecca Chicot PhD
Child development expert with a Phd from Cambridge University. She has worked on several best-selling books and BBC documentaries. She is the proud mother of three children.
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Newborn Baby Care

The early hours and days with your newborn baby

Try to keep things simple in the first hours and days with your baby. This is an important and sacred time for you to get to know each other and begin bonding.
In Short
Enjoy lots of time with your sleeping baby lying on your naked chest. This will promote production of oxytocin - the bonding hormone - in your brain which will help you to feel like a new parent. In addition, this skin to skin contact, or kangaroo care, will help to regulate your baby's breathing and body temperature.

Newborn babies are very helpless and rely on you to feed them, keep them warm and to keep them safe.

Try to offer your baby a breastfeed in the golden hour after birth as this will provide him with nutritious colostrum which also coats the lining of his gut to protect his immune system.

What is the 4th trimester?

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.

What does a newborn baby look like

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.

Is my baby checked at birth?

Newborn cute infant baby with hand holding clip on umbilical cord at a hospital nursery.

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.

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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.