Updated 16 May 2014

Dealing with your new baby

We take a look at weight gain, neonatal jaundice, your baby's first stool, visitors and much more.


Your baby's first stool
The first stool is called meconium. It is a mixture of the secretions from the alimentary glands together with lanugo, pigment and cells from the wall of your baby’s bowel.

It is a sticky, thick, greenish-black tarry substance and lasts for the first two to three days.

Neonatal jaundice
Jaundice is common in newborn babies. The yellowing (which occurs on the third or fourth day) starts at the head and works its way down to the toes. It comes from the baby’s liver being unable to cope with an excess of bilirubin in the blood.

Bilurubin is a product of haemoglobin which has a yellow pigment. Phototherapy (ultraviolet light) is usually used to treat jaundice. Continuation of breastfeeding is recommended.

Weight gain
Babies usually lose up to 10% of their birth weight in the first few days. They usually regain their weight within two to three weeks.

You will soon find out that loads of friends and relatives want to visit you when you’re out of hospital. Although they mean well, you need your rest and these visits can be inconvenient and very tiring for you. Ask them to phone in advance rather than just popping in. Reserve the right to ask them to come at another time if you don’t feel up to entertaining visitors.

Cutting your baby's nails
To avoid cuts and injuries, wait until the baby is asleep before attempting to cut the nails. Using a pair of scissors designed for babies, cut the nails straight across.

How much sleep does your baby need?
At this stage your baby sleeps about sixteen hours a day – if you’re lucky!

Confusing day and night
Your baby can’t distinguish between day and night. Help her adjust by keeping the room dark at night and using a dimmer during night feeds. If she sleeps longer than three hours during the day, wake her.

Read more:
5 terrible truths about babies


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