General care of a newborn baby
When a newborn is brought into this world, it becomes the responsibility of the mother under the supervision of nursing personnel to provide the first essential care to the baby. According to a study, the neonate should be kept with the mother immediately after birth to establish a bond between the two. Breastfeeding becomes easy and it also prevents the baby from cross-infection. The study also says that the essential care to the neonate should be immediate and should ensure warmth to the baby quickly after being delivered out of the womb. (D.C.Dutta)
Out of the different essential cares a newborn has to be given, there are a few most important ones mentioned below:
Breastfeeding is a process by which a mother feeds her baby directly from the breast. Prolactin and oxytocin are the two hormones released from the pituitary gland only during pregnancy. These two hormones help in the formation of milk in the ducts of the breast which is sucked up by the infant directly through the areola of the nipple. This is also called nursing and it is one of the most recommended ways to feed the neonate. The first milk formed during the pregnancy also called colostrum is the purest form of food for the baby. It is thick, yellow, and full of protein, antibodies, and vitamins which last for a few days. Afterward, the milk is white but still beneficial for the baby.
Experts suggest mothers feed the baby with only breast milk for 6 months before giving anything to the baby. They also recommend the continuation of the breastmilk for a year along with other food.
Breastfeeding is not only beneficial for the baby but also for the mother as it has reduced the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. (To know more about Maternal benefits of breastfeeding please read https://www.babyhelp.in/post/8-benefits-of-breastfeeding-for-the-mother)
The skin of the baby is very sensitive and has a protective covering called vernix. The falling of the wrinkled baby skin happens within a week of birth. The usage of scented products should be avoided because it irritates the sensitive skin of the baby. The clothes should be washed-sterilized and softened before the baby wears them. Blankets and other clothes should be washed separately. Using oil to massage the baby’s skin has also many benefits. Below are some of the oil and its benefits on an infant’s skin.
According to a report published in 2020, virgin coconut oil acts as a moisturizer and provides glow and strength to the baby’s skin. A number of other studies back up these conclusions, but further research is required.
Almond oil is high in vitamin E, and tests have shown that using it on premature babies increases the thickness and strength of their skin. No side effects have been found.
Petroleum ointment or jelly-like Vaseline can also be used to massage the baby’s skin
Baby oil is basically mineral oil that is safe to use on a baby’s skin. Multiple branded baby oil are available in the market.
Since the skin of the baby is very sensitive, frequent bathing should be avoided. The mother should avoid bathing the baby more than three times a week because it can remove the essential oils that protect the baby. Immediately after the baby is brought home the mother should give him/her a sponge bath. It is safe to bathe the baby with a sponge for a few days. Only after when the umbilical cord falls off should the baby be bathed in a tub. Gentle washing is recommended without the use of any scented bath products to prevent rashes or allergies.
4. Stool and urine frequency-
Neonates usually have a lot of changes in the color and consistency of the stood within 1st few days of birth. Babies pass a black, sticky tar-like stool called meconium within 24-48 hours of birth. Soon the color changes to green and is runny now after three days. The color changes again to brown and consistency become heavier. As soon as the solid food is given to the baby the stool becomes heavier and much more than before. The change from breast milk to formula feed will result in dramatic changes in color and consistency.
Cord and Eye Care
The umbilical stump should be washed and kept dry with spirit. Antiseptics do not need to be used locally. In most cases, the stump will break within 7–10 days.
Cleaning the eyes with sterile wet cotton is recommended.
1. Is breastmilk necessary for a neonate?
Ans. Yes, breastmilk is a very good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Breastmilk strengthens the immunity of the infant and helps to prevent diseases. It is the right kind of nourishment a baby requires. Breast milk is sufficient to fulfill all of the baby's nutritional needs before he or she reaches the age of six months.
2. If the mother does not breastfeeds the baby does it affects her health?
Ans. Not being able to breastfeed can be a personal decision. However, it has many benefits due to which breastfeeding is highly recommended by experts.
3. Can I use oil to massage the baby?
Ans. Yes, using oil to massage a baby is a common practice but taking care of the sensitivity of the baby is important. Since they have very thin-sensitive skin mothers should apply gentler and delicate products like coconut oil.
4. Should I use hot or cold water to wash the clothes of the baby?
Ans. Baby clothes should be gently washed in water and sterilized, it does not matter if it is done in hot or cold water. The clothes should be clean and feel softer to the baby.
5. How often should the baby be fed?
Ans. Soon after the birth, babies east every 2-3 hours. As they grow they start holding the milk and they should be fed after 3-4 hours.
Note: The pictures used in this blog have been taken from Getty images available online