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Supporting you through pregnancy and the early stages of motherhood
Post natal timeline
birth to six weeks
Meeting your baby
You have waited 9 months to hold your baby in your arms and to get to know him. If you had a straightforward labour and delivery you will be given your baby to hold straight away, and it is the best feeling. Your first thought and question will probably be "is he/she ok?" the medical staff will give your baby a thorough examination during his/her first 24 hours. They will also test his/her reflexes to check his/her central nervous system is functioning well.
 Your baby's appearance:
Head - your baby's head may be slightly swollen, especially if he was delivered using forceps or ventose. This is normal and happens because the soft bones that make up his skull give under the pressure in order to pass through the birth canal.
Hair - Some babies are still covered in lanugo, a fine layer of downy hair. This will rub off during his first weeks.
Skin - Your baby may be covered in vernix, which is a greasy substance that acts as a protective barrier to the skin. He will also more than likely look a little blue until his breathing becomes more regular and his circulation improves.
Body - Your baby's genitals and nipple area may be slightly swollen because of the hormones you have passed on via the placenta. This will go down after a few days, although in some cases breastfeeding can cause their nipples to be slightly puffy.
Your babies reflexes
A Paediatrician will test your baby's reflexes at some point before you are discharged from hospital, to check his central nervous system is functioning well. You may be surprised by the range of skills and reflexes your little baby will have.
Sucking, rooting and swallowing - Your baby will have practiced sucking while in your womb. He will instinctively turn his head towards the touch of your breast, or finger on his cheek near his mouth, to search for food, this is called rooting.
Startle Reflex - This is also known as the Moro reflex. If you do not support your baby's head when you hold him he will throw out his arms and legs with his fingers extended. Around 2 months of age this reflex will disappear.
Protective Reflexes - If a blanket or pillow were to fall over your baby's eyes, nose or mouth, he will shake his head from side to side and flail his arms to push it away so he can see and breathe. This is just an example of the several protective reflexes that your little baby will have, even at such a young age.
Stepping Reflex - When held upright with his feet touching a flat surface he will make stepping movements. This reflex disappears at about 1 month.
Grasping Reflex - If you place a finger into the palm of your baby's hand he will automatically grab hold of it.
Arriving home with baby
When you get home from the hospital with your baby take some time out. You do not need to get back to normal straight away. Ignore the cleaning and housework; your partner or family and friends can help there. You need time to recover physically and emotionally from the birth and also time to bond with your baby. Both you and your partner need time to adjust to your new roles as "mum and dad". Being a parent, especially to a newborn is a lot of hard work as you are about to find out. It takes a while to get used to it but soon you will slip into your own little routine and cope fine.
Holding and handling your baby
You should always handle your baby gently and in a caring way. Before you pick your baby up, make your presence known through voice and or eye contact. Approach him slowly and quietly so as not to startle and upset him.
The medical staff will
give your baby a thorough
examination during
the 24 hours
When you get home from
the hospital with your
baby take some time out
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