Physiological Expectations Of Your Newborn Baby
Physiological Expectations Of Your Newborn Baby
Your baby's weight, head circumference, and length will be measured to give an indication of her maturity and development. These measurements can be used as a baseline for her future development if necessary. Although routine measurements are inevitably compared to "the average," don't worry about this too much. An average is just an arithmetical calculation, so the "average child" is only theoretical and doesn't exist.
Weight: Weight Newborns differ greatly in weight. Nutritional, placental,and racial factors all have a bearing. The weight range for babies born around their expected time is 5 pounds 8 ounces to 9 pounds 14 ounces (2.5-4.5 kilograms). If you are tall or heavy or if you are diabetic, your baby is likely to weigh more.
Women who suffer from chronic hypertension, vascular or renal disease, or preeclampsia, and women who smoke during pregnancy are likely to have lighter babies. A woman whose pregnancy is shorter than 40 weeks is also likely to have a lighter baby. Girls generally weigh slightly less than boys, and babies born as twins or other multiple births are each likely to weigh less than singletons.
It is normal for your baby to lose weight in the first few days after birth as her body adjusts to new feeding requirements. She must now process her own food, and it will take a while for her to feed consistently. The usual weight loss at this time is about 4-6 ounces (115-170 grams). After five to seven days, you can expect your baby's weight to begin increasing.
The significance of a baby's weight gain is what it tells us other overall physical health. Steady weight gain indicates that her food intake is sufficient and is being absorbed, whereas poor or erratic weight gain or weight loss signals that food intake is insufficient or that it isn't being absorbed normally. Your baby will be weighed frequently by the pediatrician. There's no need to monitor her weight at home unless the doctor advises it.
Head circumference: Your baby's head is disproportionately large in comparison to her body size, and takes up one quarter of her entire length. The younger a baby is, the larger her head will be in proportion to the rest of her body. The average circumference of a newborn baby's head is about 14 inches (35 centimeters) but the range can be anything from 12y2-15 inches (31.5 - 38 centimeters).
Measuring head circumference is regarded as an essential part of the examination of a baby because the growth of the head reflects the growth of the brain. An unusually large or small head circumference may be an indication of an abnormality of the brain.
Chest and abdomen: The circumference of your baby's chest will be smaller than that of her head. Her stomach might appear to be very large and even distended, but given the immaturity of her abdominal muscles, this is to be expected.
Your baby's stools and urine may not look as you expect them to, and if you have a baby girl there may be some vaginal discharge. None of these mean that something is wrong.
Stools: Your baby's first bowel movement will consist of meconium, which is mainly digested mucus and looks blackish green. Some of this is accumulated from swallowing amniotic fluid while inside your uterus. The first meconium stool should be passed within the first 24 hours and her next bowel movement may not occur until two days later; this is especially true if you are breastfeeding (check, however, that your baby is wetting her diaper regularly). After the fourth day she may pass four or five stools daily.
You will notice that the color and composition of her stools change from dark, greenish black sticky meconium to greenish brown, and then to a yellow semisolid type. If you are bottle feeding your baby, the stools might resemble scrambled eggs.
Most babies fill their diapers as soon as they have eaten, due to a perfectly healthy gastrocolic reflex, which makes the bowel empty itself as soon as food enters the stomach. Some babies pass stools much less frequently, but as long as your baby does not have to strain too much and her stools are a normal color and soft, there is no need for concern. If her stools are very hard or infrequent after the fourth day of life, you should consult her doctor.
Urine: A newborn baby passes urine almost continuously because her bladder muscles are immature. She's unable to hold urine for any length of time - usually no longer than a few minutes - so it's quite normal to find that she wets her diaper up to 20 times in 24 hours. When she does, her urine will contain substances called urates, which may occasionally stain the diaper dark pink or red. This, too, is normal for a newborn.
Vaginal discharge: Newborn girls sometimes produce a clear or white vaginal discharge. In some cases you may notice a small amount of vaginal bleeding due to hormone changes, but this is perfectly normal and will clear up naturally after a couple of days.