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Bizarre facts about newborns

By Essete Fitha Amlak | Sunday, Apr 23rd 2017 at 08:42
Photo:Courtesy

We were still in the hospital when I decided to change my daughter's diaper for the first time. To my horror, I saw blood on the diaper and the nurse came closer when she noticed my shock. "She is bleeding," I cried out. She smiled at me and said, "That is perfectly normal my dear." That was my first introduction to the bizarre things that newborns do but it did not stop there. These are some of the other weird things I experienced.

Spotting and lactating

Babies are exposed to our high level of estrogen hormone when they are in the womb and when they are born, the levels drop rapidly. That sudden change causes what is known as pseudo menstruation, hence the spotting. It is a common thing that happens to more than a quarter of female babies, usually in the first seven days of life. It clears up on its own.

The hormonal surge can also cause lactation. The hormones cause newborns to develop tiny breasts and produce some milk from their nipples. This can be caused by some medications as well so it is best to check with a doctor if that happens.

Trembling jaw

It was my husband who noticed her trembling jaw for the first time. It freaked me out because she had had a convulsion while still in the hospital. I observed her keenly and decided to Google instead of calling the doctor. I then learned that it is result of an undeveloped nervous system. It takes a few months for their system to adapt to their environment but until then, it is good to keep the baby comfortable to avoid the quivering.

Weird breathing

One of my most beautiful experiences with my newborn was looking at her as she slept. I remember noticing that her breathing was a tad strange. I called my doctor friend at 6am to take a look, assure me that it wasn't anything serious. Newborns have irregular breathing, taking a pause then going to rapid breathing. But all that stabilises once the diaphragm develops at about the second month.

FUN FACT: A baby can breathe and swallow at the same time until seven months of age.

Startling

When I saw my daughter frequently startling herself awake, I assumed she took after me because I personally startle easily. But that is an important reflex called the moro reflex that babies must have. Doctors actually check how strong that reflex is at the first clinic visit. When babies are in the womb, they are snuggled and protected by the amniotic fluid. But once they are born, their system starts learning how to protect the body. When they startle, they throw their hands out with open palms and they suddenly bring their hands back in while drawing their head. You can try snuggling them or putting your palms against their chest to calm them. But if the trembling doesn't stop when you touch them or you think it is abnormal, please visit a doctor. This too will stop around the third month.

Raising a child is a learning process, even if it is your second or third child. Trust your motherly instincts and don't be shy to ask your doctor the million and one questions you might have.

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