Thursday, June 10, 2010

Things That Make Parents Worry: Week 1

There are several things that parents will notice the first week of life. Most of these concerns are related to physical appearance. Fortunately, these are all normal and anxiety is not warranted.
  • Flea-bite Rash. Infants will often have a rash that looks like several flea bites at various places on the body. This is called Erythema Toxicum. The name sounds awful, but the rash is of no significance. It goes away in a few weeks
  • Breast Buds. Because infants have been exposed to mom's hormones for 9 months, their breast tissue may be enlarged. This will feel like a knot under the nipples. Yes, boys can develop this too. The breast buds usually shrink away by 1-2 months old.
  • Vaginal Discharge or Bleeding. Little girls, once again because of maternal hormones, will often have a clear to white colored vaginal discharge for several weeks. They can even have some vaginal bleeding, like a women's period, during the first week or two of life.
  • Bowed Legs. Legs and feet will often look odd shortly after birth. Because of the infant's position within the uterus, the lower extremities can be bowed and the feet can often assume an unnatural position. This tends to go away as the infant grows.
  • Cone Head. Babies will often have molding of their skull from the birth process. The infants skull was designed to contort in order to fit through the birth canal, and it will often retain an unusual shape for the first week or two of life. Likewise, a vacuum extraction will almost always lead to impressive swelling and sometimes bruising of the head.
  • Purple Hands and Feet. Babies have poor circulation to their extremities. This leads to acrocyanosis, purple or blue hands and feet. This is not a sign of trouble breathing or trouble with the heart.
  • Dry Skin. Babies will shed layers of skin shortly after birth. This is related to living in water for 9 months. This will resolve in a few weeks and generally does not require any lotions or creams. Sometimes the skin can actually crack and bleed a little, especially around the ankles. In this case, you can put some Vaseline petroleum jelly on the area twice a day.
Your baby certainly does look odd, but fortunately she is normal!

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