The BabyCenter Essential Guide to Your Baby's First Year: Expert Advice and Mom-to-Mom Wisdom from the World's Most Popular Parenting Website

The BabyCenter Essential Guide to Your Baby's First Year: Expert Advice and Mom-to-Mom Wisdom from the World's Most Popular Parenting Website

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609617073
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 07/24/2007
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

LINDA Murray is the editor-in-chief of BabyCenter.com and coauthor of The BabyCenter Essential Guide to Pregnancy and Birth.

ANNA McGRAIL is the executive editor of BabyCenter Europe/International.

Daphne Metland is the editor-in-chief of BabyCenter Europe/International.

Read an Excerpt

chapter 1

first meeting

"Unforgettable." That's how most new moms describe the moment when they first hold their babies in their arms. Some moms laugh, some cry, some do both, and a good number are too stunned to do either. How you react will depend on your personality and the circumstances of your baby's delivery.

How soon after delivery will you be able to cuddle your newborn? That varies from mom to mom. Some women--typically those with uneventful vaginal deliveries--get to hold their newborns immediately after delivery (with the cord still attached). But many women, including those who have Caesarean sections, have to wait a few minutes while they or their babies get needed medical attention.

If you're handed your newborn right away, she'll be slippery and wet, and she can get cold quickly, so you both may be covered with a towel or blanket. While you're holding your baby, the nurses will wipe her and put on a covering to help keep her warm. If you have to wait a few moments to hold your baby, she'll probably be brought to you swaddled snuggly in a blanket. Either way, it's surprising how huge your baby will feel to you-- was this new person really inside you just a few minutes ago?

If your baby is adopted, you share one key thing in common with giving birth: In that first meeting with your child, you'll develop an entirely new perspective on life. The world will never look the same.

babycenter® buzz

welcome to the world

"I know that when I finally look into his eyes, it will be like no other moment in my life. I'm really looking forward to that first meeting. I hope that means that we won't have any trouble bonding, because I think we're already almost there."--Leah

"My little guy was born 2 days ago, and I can honestly say I fell in love with him from the moment I saw him. I couldn't even speak without tearing up. I try to hold him close every chance I get because just looking into his little eyes makes me feel more wonderful than anything else I've ever felt."--Jeffrey

"For me, the bond hit after they brought my baby to my room. I kissed his forehead, and he opened his eyes and stared directly into mine. For an instant, it was like we could see into each other's souls. My little boy has me completely hooked on him. I love him more and more with each day that passes!"--Amanda

"My baby arrived 9 weeks prematurely, so I never saw her for 2 weeks as she was really sick and so was I. The first time I saw her, I burst out crying with happiness. I've never felt so much love for anyone in my life. After waiting for the 2 weeks, I thought 'what if she doesn't bond with me?' But as soon as she grabbed my finger tightly with her tiny hand, I knew she knew she was mine!"--Sinead

"As soon as I held my baby boy in my arms, I felt an indescribable love." -- Erin

skin to skin

One of the most important things you can do after your baby is born is spend some time in skin-to-skin contact. Holding your baby close helps you get to know each other. It keeps your baby warm and her temperature, heart rate, and breathing regular. It also calms your baby and makes her feel safe. Your healthcare provider will leave you, your baby, and your partner, as well as any other birth witnesses or supporters, alone for as long as you like. Many men are surprised by how emotional they feel when they finally get to hold their babies in their arms. Even dads who keep it together during labor and delivery and who stay very calm and in control while other people are around start to cry when the three of you are alone together.

wakeful babies, tired moms

Babies often go through a wakeful phase just after birth, opening those big eyes as if taking in every last detail of the strange new world around. Your baby's sight isn't yet well developed, but he may turn and gaze at your face. He can best focus on things about 8 to 15 inches away, the distance from his face to yours when held in your arms.

On the other hand, your baby may be sleepy and unresponsive after the birth, especially if you've had a long labor. The experience was just as tiring for him as it was for you. After he's had some rest, it's time to try skin-to-skin contact again.

If you're exhausted, then no matter how much you've been looking forward to your baby, that initial meeting can seem anticlimactic at first. You may feel too worn out or overwhelmed to get very excited. Don't worry. "Bonding" with a new baby isn't an instant process for everyone. As you get to know your baby and touch, hold, feed, and care for him, your bond will deepen.

help with breathing

It's not uncommon for a newborn to need a little help breathing just after birth. If your baby has trouble making the switch from amniotic fluid to air, medical staff will give her oxygen, and perhaps suction her breathing passages clear of mucus. Chances are she'll need only a few minutes of treatment before being brought back to you.

how newborns look

Newborns aren't the plump, smiling cuties you see in baby magazines. If you're not prepared, some aspects of your baby's appearance may even be alarming. So here's what to expect.

Pointy head. Squeezing through the birth canal gives your baby's head a pointy, almost cone shape. This isn't dangerous or permanent, and it usually disappears within a few days. Babies born by Cesarean section usually have more rounded heads right from the start.

Soft spots on your baby's head. The soft spots (fontanelles) on your baby's head are there to allow the skull to compress enough to fit through the birth canal. The rear fontanelle can take up to 4 months to close, while the front one takes between 9 and 18 months. If your baby doesn't have much hair, a pulse may be visible at the fontanelles. This is normal, and it's often more visible when your baby cries or fusses. By about 18 months, your baby's skull bones will have fused together.

The cord. Before birth, your baby received all the nourishment he needed through the umbilical cord. Once it's cut, the stump of the cord remains attached to your baby. Your baby's doctor will likely remove the plastic clamp used to seal the cut cord after about a day (or it may detach on its own). Within about 1 to 2 weeks, the stump will blacken, dry up, and fall off, leaving behind your baby's belly button, a wonderful reminder of how you were once attached. You needn't do anything special to the stump while it's healing; just keep it dry. Applying alcohol to the stump is no longer considered necessary.

Your baby's skin. If your baby was born early, she may have thin, rather red-looking skin (red because of the blood vessels that show underneath it). Her skin may also be covered with lanugo, a fine, downy hair, and vernix, a cheesy, white substance that protected her skin in the amniotic fluid. Full-term babies usually have only a few traces of vernix in the folds of their skin.

just for dads

welcome to the family

It's not every day your life undergoes such an intense event as the birth of a child (an experience that's no less extraordinary if you're a repeat visitor to the delivery room). But many expectant fathers haven't thought about what happens after their babies are born, so becoming a dad can be a bit of a surprise, not to mention downright overwhelming.

First, the actual birth can be a real eye-opener--literally and figuratively. But if you take a step back and let go of any urge to try to take complete control of the situation (or, for that matter, even to keep your cool), it can be one of the most wonderful events of your life. Fortunately, the delivery room staff will take care of the practical matters, and if you do feel like bursting out in tears of joy, no one is going to mark that down in your permanent record. While many dads feel overwhelmed with love when their babies are born and are ready to defend mom and baby from the rest of the world, a sudden sense of terror is also common. Some dads are hit by exhaustion, worry, and uncertainty about how to "do the dad thing." But don't worry: You'll become an expert soon enough.

what you can do on the road to experthood

.At your baby's first cry, don't race for the hallway to make tell-the- world phone calls or to hand out cigars. After who-knows-how-many hours of labor, your partner--not to mention your baby--will appreciate your presence. This is your chance to get family bonding off to a great start.

.If you don't want to cut the cord, no sweat. If you don't want to take a picture of your mother-in-law with your wife 5 seconds after the birth, not to worry. Don't feel pressured to do anything that interrupts this incredible moment in time. It's your baby, too, and your memories. Soak it in first and then chronicle your mother-in-law's congratulatory smooch.

.Babies are tiny. Stating the obvious? Maybe, but for some first-time dads, the fantasy of life post-birth focuses on playing catch in the park or attending ballet class recitals, not gingerly holding a naked, fragile blossom of new life. Rest assured, that tiny baby will grow into your star runner or graceful gymnast--with many amazing stops along the way.

.Should your baby need to go into the nursery or neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for any reason, take a deep breath and redouble your support and advocacy for your partner. She'll be anxious--and want constant updates- -in a way you've never experienced before. And if she had a c-section, you'll be her foot soldier. If it's possible to take digital photos of your baby in either the nursery or NICU, do it and bring them to your partner ASAP. You'll be a hero.

If your baby arrived late, she may have a slightly wrinkly appearance and very little, if any, lanugo. Sometimes what remains of the vernix looks like a white powder on the skin.

by the numbers

Did you experience love at first sight with your newborn?

Yes 71%

No 29%

Based on a poll of 37,938 BabyCenter parents

About half of all babies are born with milia, tiny white pimple-like dots on their faces. These disappear in time. Your baby may also have a birthmark. These range from temporary discolored patches to permanent splotches in a variety of colors from pink and red to brown and even blue. The most common are red "stork bites"--sometimes more sweetly referred to as "angel kisses" when found on the forehead or nape of the neck--that are dilated capillaries near the surface of the skin that fade by toddlerhood, though some last longer. If you're concerned about any marks on your baby, talk to your baby's doctor.

Gray-blue hands. A new baby's blood circulation takes up to 48 hours to settle down, so her hands and feet may feel cold.

Enlarged genitals. Whether you have a boy or girl, your baby's genitals could be swollen from the extra dose of hormones you passed on just before birth. This is temporary! Baby girls may have vaginal discharge, too, which can be bloody.

Swollen breasts. Many babies--boys and girls--have swollen breasts, along with a milky discharge from the breasts. It is caused by exposure to maternal hormones in utero and will disappear within a few weeks.

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