Your Newborn at Birth



Your baby has finally arrived! Your baby’s appearance may surprise you though and he or she might not be the perfect newborn you pictured.   You will notice many unusual features as you explore your newborn head to toe. 



The chart below describes what you might find how you can expect your baby to change as they adjust to the world around them.


Body Part What to Expect Why This Happens When Will It Change?
Head Your baby’s head may appear cone-shaped.  A baby's skull is made up of many plates of bone.  One plate of bone can slide over the edge of another.   This allows the head to change shape as the baby moves through the birth canal. Will return to normal in a few days.
Babies have a diamond shaped “soft spot” or fontanelle on the top of the head (anterior) and a second one that is shaped like a triangle above the nape of the neck (posterior). Fontanelles are the spaces where the plates of bone meet. These spaces are covered by tough protective membranes so that parents do not have to worry about injuring these spaces. Allows for the growth of the brain Anterior closes within 18 months
A newborn's head may look swollen and bruised. This happens because of the pressure on the babies head during labour and delivery. Vacuum extractors and forceps can also cause bruising. Posterior closes 8 – 12 weeks
Eyes Baby’s eyes may be bloodshot and may even have some blood spots.  The pressure on the baby’s head during birth. Will resolve within a few days.
Your newborn will be able to see clearly 12 to 18 inches away, the distance to your face when you cradle your baby.   By 6 months of age, a baby is capable of seeing distances equal to an adult's.
A newborn sees the world as if viewing a black and white TV.   Baby is able to see colour by 2 months of age.
It is common for newborns to have difficulty bringing both eyes together to look at an object.   This improves by 6 months of age.
Ears A newborn's ears are often flattened to the side of the head as they move through the birth canal.  At birth, the ear canals are filled with amniotic fluid.   Fluid will drain out within the first day and your baby will be able to hear well. Your newborn was able to hear voices while in the uterus and will now recognize those familiar voices.
Breathing and First Noises Your baby may sound like they have mucous built up when breathing, and may even sneeze. Breathing through their nose, newborns can be quite noisy, grunting and snorting, even stopping for brief periods. Your baby does not have a cold.  It is moisture in the baby’s upper respiratory passages. It may take weeks for this to clear.
Nose Baby's nose is flattened. Due to small space in birth canal. Will correct itself in a few days.
Skin While in the uterus, baby's skin is protected by a white coating called vernix. As the pregnancy approaches 40 weeks, the vernix begins to disappear, beginning with the hands and feet and progressing. The unprotected skin of the feet and hands may be very dry, even peeling.   Depending on when your baby is born, you may find vernix only in your baby's creases and folds.
At birth, your baby may be a blue-red in colour, changing to more of a healthy pink colour with the first breaths. Because immature system of circulating blood. Bluish colour should disappear minutes after birth.
May find baby’s hands and feet feel cool and look blue.    
Fine downy hair on the face, shoulders and back. Helps to keep newborn warm. Goes away in the first weeks of life.
At birth, some newborns have red coloured patches of skin at the nape of the neck, on the eyelids or upper lip. These "stork bites" are believed to be pressure points that develop during pregnancy from the position of baby's head in the pelvis. Probably will disappear by your baby's first birthday.
Genitals Breast tissue of both sexes, including the nipples, may be swollen. Newborn girls may leak a milky discharge from the nipples. The genitals may also be swollen and red (the scrotum of newborn boys and labia of girls). A bloody or mucous type discharge may even be released from the vagina. Both baby girls and boys are exposed to high levels of hormones in the uterus. Over the first weeks of life, these hormonal effects will disappear.
Umbilical Cord

The umbilical cord is a shiny blue- white colour.

The cord contains no nerves so your baby will feel no pain while cord is clamped and cut at birth.  As the cord decays it will darken to black in colour. When falling off, it may bleed slightly.

  Dries and falls off (most) often by 2 weeks of age.



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