Your Baby's First Hour of Life: Your 8 Most Frequently Asked Questions, Answered

Get answers to your 8 most-asked questions

You spend hours during your pregnancy imagining what your new baby will look like and how she will feel when you first hold her in your arms. You may wonder what birth is like from your baby's point of view, what a typical newborn looks like, how a baby reacts in the hours following birth and what to expect as you bond with your baby. Learn the answers to these questions and more.

1. What is the experience of labor and birth like for your baby?
Imagine yourself secure and warm with no sense of pain or discomfort, being gradually squeezed and compressed over many hours, only to emerge into a world of intense sensations of light, cold, touch, smells and loud noise. Your back is straightened out for the first time, your lungs burn and someone is rubbing you really hard with a rough blanket. Now imagine that you are being returned to a world of warmth, you are once again curled up against your mother's warm skin. No one is putting things in your mouth anymore and they are letting you just rest quietly. Maybe, wonder of wonders, warm, sweet colostrum is being offered. It takes a while to figure out what to do, but gradually you are rewarded. In an ideal world, baby only experiences a few minutes of the harsh realities of life before being nestled back into the arms of her mother and father.

2. What will your newborn baby look like?
Her head may be misshapen, elongated a bit, with prominent overriding ridges forming the plates of the skull. She may be pink or slightly dusky in color; the hands and the feet may be bluish. (African-American babies may appear rosy pink, only to take on their darker-shaded skin color within a week or two.) She may be covered in blood or wet with amniotic fluid. She may be stained slightly yellow or greenish if there was meconium in the fluid. This will fade within 24 to 48 hours. Some vernix, a waxy coating, may coat her body if she was a bit early. If term or postterm, the vernix may be gone or appearing just in the spaces under her arms or in the folds under her chin. If postterm, her skin may be peeling slightly.

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