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Life after birth : Understanding your baby's body


  • It may look a bit distorted due to the pressure exerted on it during birth.
  • In ventouse delivery, the head may look elongated as the suction pump was attached to the baby's head to ease it out of the vagina.
  • In forceps delivery, there may be red marks on the sides of the head where the forceps were placed.
  • There may be bruising on the head.
  • The shape of the head should get back to normal in a couple of weeks.
  • There will be a diamond-shaped patch on the top of your baby's head. Called the fontanelle, it is the area where the skull bones have not fused yet.
  • The fontanelle may move when the baby breathes. This is normal and no cause to worry. It takes about 18 months for the skull bones to fuse.
  • The fontanelle is lined by a tough membrane and is not damaged by everyday handling. Don't be afraid to touch it.
  • Your baby may have lots of hair or be bald.


  • Blue eyes (the true eye colour does not develop until your baby is six months old)
  • The eyes may appear bloodshot due to the squeezing and pushing during birth. It will disappear soon.
  • Eyelids may be puffy by the pressure of the birth. Sometimes, puffy eyelids could be the result of an eye infection, so check it out with the doctor or midwife.
  • Squinting is quite common in the first few months.
  • Your newborn can see you at birth if you hold him about 20 cm(8 in) away from your face.


The tip of the tongue may appear slightly forked. This is nothing to worry as the tip will grow forward in the first year


  • Baby's skin may be competely covered with vernix, the greasy substance protecting the skin in the womb. This can be easily wiped off.
  • Skin may be peeling especially from hands and feet. This will go in a couple of days.
    Some lanugo, the downy body hair may be visible (especially in premature babies). This will go in a couple of weeks.
  • Milia: these are tiny white spots on the face and are caused by blocked oil glands. They fade after a few days.
    Stork bites: V-shaped pink or red marks. They may appear on the forehead, upper eyelids and the nape of the neck. They will all disappear in the coming few months.
  • Strawberry marks: Dark red and raised marked. They may actualy become bigger a few days after birth but eventually disappear by about six months. Sometimes treatment may be required if these marks carry on till the teens.
  • Port wine stains: these are red or purple marks found on the face and neck. These marks are permanent and treatment may be required once the child grows older.
  • Nettle rash: this rash has a raised white centre surrounded by an inflammed red area. This disappears after the first month.
  • Spots and rashes: These are most common and vanish on their own in the newborn.


  • They may appear swollen in both sexes. This will go down in a couple of days.
  • The breasts may even ooze a little milk. Never try to squeeze the milk out.

Little Hands & Feet

  • May appear bluish if your baby's circulation is slow. They should turn pink when the position is changed.
  • Long fingernails
  • Hands will be clenched into fists
  • Legs may appear bowed due to the curled-up position in the womb.


  • The cord will be clamped and a small bit of the cord will be sticking out.
  • The cord takes about a week to dry and drop off.
  • Keep the navel clean while the cord is still there.
  • Let your health visitor or midwife know if there is any bleeding from the navel.


  • The genitals of both male and female newborn babies look swollen and large in proportion to their body. This is normal and the swelling goes down in a few weeks when the genitals start looking in proportion with their bodies.
  • Vaginal discharge in the baby girl is common. (Caused by the mother's hormones passed to the baby before birth)
  • Testicles of baby boy are often pulled up in the groin.

Food for thought...

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