Society whether it is America, Russia, Germany, France, India–welcomes a newborn. When a baby is born everyone would like to hold and cuddle the little one. The whole world around the baby is transformed into baby language.
The Newborn’s week was celebrated from November 15th to 21st, 2000. During this week the neonates planned to rally together to fight for their birth right.
Neonates are babies aged between 0 to one month. The normal gestation period of pregnancy is 37 weeks. How must the newborn baby be looked after? Two factors contribute to the concept of neonatal care at birth and at home: If the mother delivered the baby normally and whether on time? What was the baby’s weight at birth? In developed countries most neonates are born premature but have normal birth weight, while in developing countries like India, babies are born at Term but have low birth weight.
Due to low birth weight, most Indian babies suffer from what is called Intra Uterine Growth Retardation, says Pediatrician Dr. Ashish Bavdekar. The broader classification is guided in this manner:
- Small for Gestation Age (SGA): Babies who have low birth weight (2.5kgs)
- Appropriate for Gestation Age (AGA): Babies who have normal birth weight (2.5–3.5kgs).
- Large for Gestation Age (LGA): Babies who are too large at birth (3.5–4.0kgs). A baby can be LGA irrespective of prematurity and birth weight factors. The LGA baby may be large because both parents may be big; but the LGA factor could be problematic if the mother suffers from diabetes.
At 0–1month of age the baby is prone to infection as it has low immunity (its body does not have enough antibodies to fight the infection). Medication in such cases is given intravenously.
In western world babies do not suffer from malnutrition like in India. Therefore the western parameters of prematurity cannot be adapted in our country as our problems are entirely different, states Dr. Bavdekar.
At birth the Neonatalogist checks whether the baby’s ABC is fine.( Airway, Breathing and Circulation). Smaller the baby the longer he takes to breathe on his own. If the baby has low birth weight he is admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where his condition is monitored till such time that the neonatalogist has confirmed that the baby is fine. This could last from 1 to 15–20 days. The newborn is also admitted to the ICU if there are complications at birth such as obstructed stomach which may cause the child to go through surgery.
After the baby gives out a lusty cry it is given his first bath to wash away the mother’s secretion that is all over its body. The baby is then wrapped in soft cloth to keep warm and then handed over to his mother.
Newborns should not be given a bath regularly as they are sensitive to extreme temperature changes. The room should be warm and in winter give your baby a bath later in the day. Bathing the baby is a cultural activity. Each region has its own baby bathing styles, handed down by grandma. Perfumes like camphor can be used. You can also use massage oils. Oils will help your baby grow better. But don’t put oil or anything into the baby’s nose, ear or mouth or rub oil on its umbilical chord. Do not apply kajal, as it is likely to irritate the little one’s eyes.
The best manner to bathe your baby: Gently place the newborn in a tub of warm water with his head held up. Wash the baby externally with a mild soap. Use a clean towel to dab your baby dry. Do not rub with towel, as his skin is sensitive. Wrap your baby with clean and warm cotton clothing immediately. This is essential as there is a chance for your baby to get hypothermia.
Your newborn can develop a skin condition called cradle cap or seborrhic dermatitis on the scalp due to poor hygiene. Some babies get it, some don’t. It can be treated by your pediatrician.