Frequently asked questions by the mother of a newborn
New mothers are always curious, excited and anxious. They might have many questions to ask to their doctors. I always ask the new mother to write all the questions that are in their mind and ask them one by one when they visit me with their baby for checkup. Here I am trying to put the frequently ask questions by mother & their answers.
“My baby is not passing urine yet, he is already 8 hours old. Is it okay?” — Most of the babies passes urine within 24 hours but we can wait for 48 hours.
“My baby is passing blackish stool. Is that normal?” — Well that is meconium and it is normal. Usually baby passes this type of stool for the first 3-5 days.
“My baby sleeps for a long time. Is it okay?” — Usually newborn sleeps for 18 hours a day.
“When will the umbilical cord fall?” — Usually within 5-7 days. Sometimes, it may get delayed. Do not worry if there is no redness and/or discharge around the umbilicus. At birth, 7.1% Chlorhexidine drop is being applied once and further no medication is needed. Just keep it dry.
“My baby is three days old and having yellow face, is that okay?” — Well this is physiological jaundice and is very common. It will go off automatically within 7-10 days. But Jaundice on day one is always pathological and needs to be handled properly.
“When to bath the baby?” — Please wait for a few days. It is better until the umbilical cord is separated, till then wipe the baby with wet soft clothes. Boil the water, keep it for some time to cool and then use that water for bathing.
“My baby is not getting enough breast milk?” — Initial 2-3 days milk secretion or flow may not be up to desire but later on it will be, so do not give your baby anything except breast milk. All newborns needs to be breastfed within in an hour of birth.
“How many times to feed the baby?” — According to baby’s desire but not less than eight times a day. Passing urine after 4-5 days of life, 6 times or more in 24 hours indicates that the milk flow is adequate.
“How long to feed the baby?” — Preferably 10 minutes from each breast and to be suckled from both breast. So at least 20 minutes to be allotted for each sitting. Exclusive breast feeding (only breast milk, not even a drop of water) to be given for 6 months and after completing 6 months, complementary foods with breast milk to be added gradually. Breast milk may be continued with complementary feeding up to 2 years of age. Do not force the baby to eat. The baby’s stomach is only 200 ml.
“My baby is 5 months old but still the head lag is there. Is that normal?” — Normal milestones of development are - a baby should have neck control by 3-4 months, should sit by 6 months, should crawl by 9 months, should stand and walk with support by 12 months. Baby usually smiles by 3-4 weeks of age.
From my long experience I have observed that the mothers have innumerable questions to ask. We as doctors should allow them to ask and listen to their questions with due attention and answer them with appropriate explanation. It is their right and on the other hand it is our duty to listen to them and respond to their queries. Wishing all the babies and their mothers to be happy and healthy.
The author is a Professor of Paediatrics at Community Based Medical College, Mymensingh.