Most newborns don’t look like the chubby babies you see on TV. Months spent in the uterus and time in the birth canal can make your newborn look wrinkled and puffy-eyed. A slightly pointed or misshapen head is also common. These will go away after a few days.
Your newborn is examined within the first five minutes of birth by a paediatrician. The examination includes checking the eyes, ears, nose and throat. The doctor also listens to the heart and lungs, and examines the abdomen and genital regions. Your baby’s arms and legs are checked carefully, and reflexes are tested. Based on the exam, an APGAR score is given. A score of 8-10 is normal and indicates that your newborn is healthy and in good condition. Bear in mind that a perfect score of 10 is extremely unusual.
A nurse will clean your baby with soap and water. At this time, some of the white creamy covering of birth called the ‘vernix’ is removed. Eye drops may be given to prevent infection. Identity bracelets are placed around the baby’s wrist and ankle.
Your baby may be placed on your stomach or breast. This will signal your body to begin making milk. If you had decided to breastfeed, it is very important that you inform your doctor before going into labour. Get the help of a lactation specialist (healthcare personnel whose expertise is in breastfeeding). Newborns should be allowed to feed when they are hungry, and not according to a strict schedule.
Before discharge, your baby will have a simple screening test for a rare condition called phenylketonuria (PKU). A blood test (T-4) is also routinely done to detect hypothyroidism, along with other studies your doctor may consider necessary.
If your baby is a boy and you wish to have him circumcised in the hospital or doctor’s office, you will be asked to sign a permission slip. Circumcision is best done within the first 10 days of your baby’s life.
Other examinations Specially trained nurses will constantly check to ensure your baby is warm, dry, happy and healthy. Your baby will also be examined by the paediatrician or family doctor, who will answer any questions you may have regarding your baby’s general state of health before you both go home.
Source: MIMS HealthToday Malaysia