FOR THE NEWBORN (Part 2)
All babies should lose weight within the first few days of life. This is NORMAL. They can lose up to 10% of their birthweight. They should however, starting gaining weight by day 4 or 5 such that they regain weight back to their original birthweight by the time they are 10 days old.
Your baby will often get their first bath in the hospital. We try to have this done by about 24 hours of age, but if your baby is having difficulties staying warm, then this is often delayed until they can keep their temperature within normal range.
Other things to know:
If your baby is larger than the average, smaller than the average, born earlier than 37 weeks or you had diabetes in your pregnancy then the nurses will check your baby’s blood sugar with a heel poke a few times after birth. There is a chance baby can have a low blood sugar in these cases and require extra feeds or IV sugar treatment.
If there was concern regarding fever or infection during your labor, your baby will be monitored more closely to ensure they don’t develop an infection. This usually means checking their breathing, heart rate and temperature every four hours as opposed to every 6 or 12 hours. If there is greater concern of serious infection during your labour, then your baby might get bloodwork within the first few hours of life as well.
All babies get a heel poke at or after the 24hour mark for routine screening bloodwork. In BC, this is called a newborn screen. The lab will come and poke baby’s heel for some blood and fill in three dots on a piece of paper. This test screens for 23 rare but treatable diseases that can occur in infants. If you do not want this done for your child, then a waiver must be signed indicating that you declined this test. I highly recommend you do this test as this testing has caught and saved many babies from developing life-threatening or life-altering consequences which would occur if the diseases were not found early.
Nearly all babies also get their bilirubin tested with the newborn screen. This test is looking for jaundice. Nearly all babies have a risk factor for jaundice and so most hospitals will test all newborns for this. Clinically speaking, jaundice is the yellow colouration of the skin and eyes which occurs from accumulation of bilirubin. Bilirubin is a byproduct of the blood in your body. Healthy adults can get rid of this easily, but infants have immature livers and kidneys which makes it slower for them to get rid of the bilirubin. There are also other risk factors such as incompatibility with Mom’s blood, infection etc which can contribute to jaundice. Very high bilirubin can cause kernicterus which is deposition of bilirubin in the brain. This can lead to deafness, seizures, abnormal movements, and developmental delay.