Newborn Novelties

Fluid-filled papules
These, found on the gum, are harmless (and common) cysts. Yellowish-white spots might suddenly become visible on the roof of your baby's mouth when he yawns widely. Although they look worrying they are equally harmless. Both will clear up without treatment and will have vanished well before a first tooth is likely.

Swollen breasts
It is perfectly normal for babies of both sexes to have swollen breasts in the first three to five days after birth. This is due to hormones flooding through the mother just before the birth. The hormones are intended for her but they sometimes get to the baby, too. The swollen breasts may even have a tiny quantity of "milk" in them. They should be left strictly alone as any attempt to squeeze liquid out might introduce an infection. The swelling will die down in a few days as the baby's body rids itself of the hormones.

Cord stump
Your midwife or doctor will check the cord stump and make sure that your baby's navel heals cleanly. If you see any signs of infection -- redness or discharge -- report it immediately.
Umbilical hernia
A small swelling close to the navel, which sticks out more when the baby cries, cannot actually be called "normal," but is very common indeed. It is caused by a slight weakness of the muscles in the wall of the abdomen that allows the contents to bulge forward. Almost all such hernias right themselves completely by one year and most doctors believe that they heal more quickly if they are not strapped up. Very few ever require surgery.

The genitals of both boys and girls are larger, in proportion to the rest of their bodies, at birth than at any other time before puberty. During the first few days after birth they may look even larger than normal because hormones from the mother have crossed the placenta, entered the baby's bloodstream and caused temporary extra swelling. The scrotum or the vulva may look red or inflamed. All in all the baby's sexual parts may look conspicuous and peculiar. But don't worry. The doctor or midwife who delivered the baby will have checked that all is normal. The inflammation and swelling will rapidly subside during the baby's settling period and he or she will soon "grow into" those apparently overlarge organs.
Undescended testes
A boy's testes develop in the abdomen. They descend into the scrotum just before a full-term birth. If the doctor cannot feel them during her examination of the newborn, it may be that they are "retractile." They have descended, but they can still go up again into the abdomen and do so in reaction to the touch of cold hands. Provided that they can be "milked" down, they will eventually descend on their own. An undescended testicle is one which cannot be persuaded into the scrotum after a full-term birth or by the time a premature baby reaches his expected date of birth. If you cannot even see or feel both your son's testes in his scrotum, mention it to the doctor who checks him at around six weeks of age.
Tight foreskin (phimosis)
The penis and foreskin develop from a single bud in the fetus. They are still fused at birth and they only gradually separate during the first few years of the boy's life. A tight foreskin is therefore not a problem a new baby can have. You cannot retract his foreskin because it is not made to retract at his age. You cannot wash underneath it because it is only meant to be cleaned from outside in babyhood. Circumcision (surgical removal of the foreskin) of a young baby is very rarely medically advisable and, if it becomes necessary later on, it is often because of attempts to retract the foreskin forcibly before it was ready to retract of its own accord.

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