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Newborns look different in real life

The babies who play newborns on television are often a few weeks old - in reality, newborns may not look the way we expect them to.

It’s good to know what to expect:
• Skin will have a blue or white tinge at first and then begin to change to the baby’s normal skin colour. There may be some streaks of blood or mucous from the birth on baby’s skin, this is
normal and can just be wiped off. The skin is covered (more or less, depending on the baby) with a white, creamy substance called vernix that looks like soft cheese. This is an important protective coating that will slowly be absorbed by baby’s skin. Finally, parts of baby’s body may be covered in soft hair called lanugo, this will fall off in the first few weeks of life.
•The umbilical cord will be pulsating, thick and moist immediately after birth, and you will be able to see its veins and arteries. Some cords are thicker, some are longer, some are shorter, it really varies. It’s best to wait until the cord is white and stops pulsating before clamping and cutting it, ensuring that baby gets as much blood as possible.
• Baby’s head will be elongated after moulding to fit through the birth canal. In a few hours it will be round again, with a soft spot in the centre where the skull bones meet. Baby’s hair is wet and
matted, and is usually towel-dried.
• On her face, her eyes will be puffy and open slowly as she looks around. There may be red spots on her forehead and eyelids called stork bites, these will fade over the next few weeks.
• Genitalia will be swollen, no matter if you are having a boy or girl. The scrotum will be larger than it usually is, as will girls’ labia.
• Baby’s hands and feet will be wrinkled and blueish for the first few hours of life. Her legs will be drawn up and frog-like for the first few days, too.

Newborns in real life

The Golden Hour
The hour after baby’s birth is one of the most important hours of his life. During this hour a cocktail of hormones mean baby is wide awake and alert, soaking in his new surroundings and meeting his parents. Baby wants (and needs!) to be held, ideally skin to skin (with no clothes in between) and to make eye contact with you. The combination of looking into each other’s eyes and being held skin to skin stimulates your baby’s brain and makes him feel calm and safe.

Breastfeeding after birth
The vast majority of babies are very interested in breastfeeding immediately after birth, wide awake and looking for the breast. The first breastfeed is very important - once your baby starts opening her mouth wide and pushing her head to the side as if looking for the nipple, ask the midwife or nurse to help you find a comfortable position where the baby can latch on by herself comfortably (ask for pillows and help with positioning as needed). Her sucking reflex is very strong in the first hour of life and chances are she will want to latch and will do it well.

The golden hour should not be disturbed unless there is a very important medical reason - you and your baby should be together, skin to skin, no matter how you gave birth. It’s so important that almost everything else can wait.