Newborn period refers to the first twenty-eight days of life. This period is the most challenging period of human life, since babies are born to an entirely new surrounding from a warm and quite place, i.e. the mother’s womb. There are lots of physiological changes happening during this period in the baby, which is essential for their survival. Also this period is an important time in the life of the baby and the family, since both of them face lots of changes from their routine.
A newborn baby can either be born earlier than expected / prematurely (delivery before thirty seven completed weeks of pregnancy), at term (delivery between thirty seven completed weeks and forty two weeks of pregnancy), or post term (delivery after forty two weeks of pregnancy).
These three groups of newborn have their peculiar features and require appropriate support and care for their optimal growth and development. It is imperative to take care of the preterm and low birth weight babies as many studies have demonstrated beyond doubt that these conditions can later on causes various health issues like hypertension and increased cardiovascular risk amongst other morbidities like developmental delays and low IQ, thus reducing the productivity of the individual and increasing the burden on the socio-economic status of the country.
As soon as possible after birth, and within 24 hours of birth, the newborn baby should undergo a detailed clinical evaluation. The goal of the detailed examination is to:
- Detect congenital abnormalities, if any.
- Ascertain that the baby has withstood the stress of delivery without suffering any injury such as excessive molding, cephal hematoma, nerve palsies, or fractures.
- Look for signs and symptoms of problems which needs medical attention and care at the earliest, such as respiratory difficulties, vomiting, feeding issues, low blood sugars, bluish discoloration of skin / cyanosis or seizures.
Few dos and don’ts for new born babies:
- Immediately after birth, the airway should be cleared of any fluid, blood or excess mucus if present.
- The umbilical cord should not be cut in a hurry as the advantages of delayed cord clamping is now well established. Delaying cord clamping for about 1-2 minutes or until the cord pulsation ceases in otherwise well term newborns may give the baby extra 20-40 mls of blood and about 30-35 mg of iron, thereby protecting the baby from the risk of anemia later during infancy.
- Immediately after birth, if airway is patent, the baby is wiped dry to reduce heat loss and wrapped in a warm towel and then handed over to the mother or nursed skin-to-skin beside the mother, covered with dry linen. The mother should be encouraged to breast feed at the earliest.
- All precautions should be taken for maintaining temperature in newborn babies, sustain adequate feeding and thus avoid low blood sugars and prevent infections.