After 9 months of waiting (maybe not so patiently!) the moment has come: your baby is finally here! Now that you’re holding your little one, you’ve officially entered the newborn period.
What is that? How long does it take? What can you expect? Don’t worry, we have answers.
The newborn period is the first 28 days – the first 4 weeks – of a baby’s life, whether it came early, late, or right on schedule.
The first 28 days after birth is an important period of rapid growth and development. These days also set the stage for your baby’s future eating and sleeping habits.
While the newborn period is a time of bonding and growth, it is also a time of caution. There is a risk of infection during the neonatal period and many congenital problems, if any, are discovered.
If you gave birth in a hospital, you will be cared for at least part of that week by the nurses and doctors there.
For the first few days after birth, healthcare professionals will carefully examine your newborn and may perform a variety of tests and screenings to assess their health, such as:
- hearing screening. A newborn hearing screening is done before a baby leaves the hospital or birth center and tests your baby’s hearing.
- blood tests. A few drops of blood are drawn from a prick in your baby’s heel. The sample is sent to a government laboratory to determine if your baby has any of the rare but serious conditions.
- oxygen screening. In this painless test, a device called a pulse oximeter is attached to your baby’s arm and foot to measure the amount of oxygen in your baby’s blood. This test helps doctors determine if your child has a congenital heart defect.
The first week of life is one of sleeping and feeding. Newborns are expected to sleep 14 to 17 hours a day. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case when you want, as they will need to feed every 2 to 4 hours until they return to birth weight.
Remember “back to sleep”. Always lay your baby on their back to sleep and make sure they are on a firm surface with no blankets or pillows.
Once you leave the hospital, you can also let your baby lie on her stomach for a short time while she is awake by resting her on your chest or on a blanket on a flat surface while someone is with her.
This tummy position is important to help your baby develop muscle strength in the head, neck, and upper body that prepares them for crawling.
It’s common for little ones to lose weight in the first few days right after birth. Your baby’s doctor will make sure your baby’s weight does not drop more than 10 percent below its birth weight.
In the first few hours and days of your baby’s life, some changes will take place in his body. Immediately after birth, when the umbilical cord is clamped, your baby takes his first breath and his lungs start working for the first time. Fluid leaks from her lungs. Your heart changes so that oxygen-rich blood flows to the lungs.
Your baby’s kidneys begin to filter their blood. Their digestive tract begins to work by secreting a thick substance called meconium that lined their digestive tract while they were in the womb.
Your baby’s skin may be thin, peeling, or covered with fine hairs. Your skin begins to change during the early neonatal period.
You will need to take your baby to their doctor or other healthcare professional for their first healthy infant visit in their first week at home – around 3 to 5 days of life.
If you are the birthing parent, your child’s doctor will likely also talk to you about how you are feeling and how you are adjusting to being a new parent. If you need assistance at this point, they can arrange it for you.
Although it seems like your baby is still on a constant cycle of sleeping and eating every 2 to 3 hours, by the end of the 2nd week your little one should be back to birth weight.
This is an exciting milestone! This usually means you can stop waking them up every few hours at night to feed. However, they will likely still wake up alone quite frequently.
When you’re breastfeeding, it can still feel new and difficult. Your nipples may also be sore. Meeting with a lactation consultant can help with breastfeeding difficulties. If you are feeding formula, discuss any concerns with your child’s pediatrician.
If your baby has had a circumcision, she will likely complete healing this week.
Call your doctor or other health care professional if you notice your child producing fewer wet diapers or if he doesn’t seem interested in feeding multiple meals in a row. This can be a sign of illness or a feeding issue that needs to be addressed.
Your little one could be having a growth spurt this week, leading to cluster feeds. This can make feeding and sleeping feel erratic.
You may also notice your baby trying to raise his head. It is important to continue or extend tummy time with your baby. It helps build muscle and should be offered several times a day.
If it has never happened before, your baby’s umbilical cord stump is likely to fall off this week as it heals.
By week 4, your child seems more alert and expressive as their hearing and vision continue to develop.
By the end of week 4, you and your child may find your groove. You might even feel like you could start to see the meaning behind some of her screams.
However, don’t worry if it isn’t already. Many factors can affect how you feel and how you bond with your baby.
Towards the end of the first month it is time for another visit to your pediatrician for a check-up. They’re probably going to be talking about your baby
Some complications that can occur during the neonatal period are:
The first month after having a baby is the riskiest. According to that
This is why visits during the newborn period are so important.
Much has been done to reduce the number of infant deaths worldwide, particularly during the neonatal period. It is crucial to be aware of the types of complications that can arise and to seek prompt medical care.
If you are the birthing parent, your body recovers from all the birth and childbirth complications in the first month. It will also experience a number of hormonal changes that can cause you to feel all emotions.
Postpartum discomfort can vary, but uterine pain and vaginal discharge are to be expected as your uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size. If you had a cesarean section, don’t lift anything heavier than your baby during this time.
It is important not to insert anything into your vagina until you have your doctor’s approval. This is usually around 6 to 8 weeks after birth.
During the newborn period, the non-delivering parent may also experience a range of emotions. It may be that they get used to a new sleeping pattern, feed the baby and also change diapers. They may have trouble committing or experience some symptoms of depression as well.
All of this is normal and there is treatment that can help you. Contact your doctor for help if these feelings start interfering with the functions of daily living.
Adding a new member to your family is a big adjustment for everyone!
Your little one will go through an intense growth phase during the newborn period, which is the first 4 weeks after birth. It’s a critical time in a baby’s life, so it’s important to notify their doctor immediately if there are any health concerns.
But remember that your well-being is also important. It’s also important to take care of yourself and seek help for any physical or emotional issues that may arise during this time.