What's Normal for My Newborn?

Normal Genitals and Umbilical Cord

Baby's Breasts and Genitals

What's Normal: At birth, the breasts of male and female babies can vary in size from tiny to nearly an inch in diameter, and the degree of enlargement can differ between breasts. This is due to pregnancy hormones and is harmless. The breasts shrink over the first few weeks of life.

Mom's declining pregnancy hormones may also cause a baby girl's labia to temporarily swell, or induce vaginal discharge or a few days of bleeding after birth. While a baby girl's swollen labia tend to resolve quickly, a disproportionately large scrotum on a boy might remain enlarged for weeks or months due to a small amount of fluid surrounding the testicles. If a baby boy was circumcised, the head of the penis may show signs of irritation and appear whitish or yellowish in places as it heals. His urine stream should be strong.

What's not: About 3 percent of full-term baby boys are born with one or both testicles not yet in the scrotum. That number increases to 30 percent for premature boys. Most undescended testicles will move into the scrotum in the early months of life. If they haven't dropped by 1 year of age, hormonal treatment or surgery can bring them down.

Baby's Umbilical Cord

What's Normal: The umbilical cord is white, translucent, and shiny when it's cut and clamped after birth. The remaining stump dries up and falls off usually between 1 and 3 weeks. In the hospital, physicians may apply a dye that dries the stump while inhibiting bacterial growth, or tell parents to swab the umbilical area with alcohol when diapering at home. Other doctors might suggest dry cord care: cleaning the umbilical area with soap and water whenever it's soiled and letting it air-dry. With either approach, sponge-bathe baby until the stump falls off.

What's Not: Signs of an infection include pus collecting at the base of the cord or redness, hardness, or tenderness of the skin around the stump; crying when the stump is touched (other than when cold alcohol is applied); or a delay in cord separation. A clear, urinelike discharge from the cord may indicate a structural abnormality of the umbilical area. Other than the occasional spot of blood on a diaper, the cord shouldn't actively bleed. After the stump falls off, a pinkish lump of scar tissue -- known as an umbilical granuloma -- that oozes a light yellowish material might develop. Call your doctor if you suspect an infection or spot any of the above irregularities.

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