There are plenty of things to pay attention to after your new baby is born. Here are some things you don't need to put on that list.
What Not to Worry About: #1 to #5
1. Touching the soft spots on baby's head. If you've done this, don't worry about it! When you touch your baby's soft spots, known as the fontanels, you're not touching his brain. So what are you touching? A thick, very protective membrane. The soft spots exist because, in order to safely negotiate the narrow birth canal, a baby's skull is flexible, so your little one's downy head has already survived a pretty rough ride with no harm done.
2. Seeing baby's pulse in his fontanels. What you're seeing are the normal workings of your baby's circulatory system. Because the fontanels cover areas of the skull that have not yet fused together, they're soft, making veins and arteries visible.
3. Blood in your newborn girl's diaper. During pregnancy, a surge in maternal estrogen levels can stimulate a female fetus's uterus. Within the first week of life, it's not uncommon for baby girls to have a mini period in which the uterus sheds a little blood.
4. A small hollow in baby's chest. Relax, this isn't a heart problem. According to experts, the breastbone is made up of three parts. The indentation you see is likely the bottom piece, angling backward. As your baby grows, her chest and belly muscles will pull it straight. Even before then, layers of yummy baby fat will cover up this very normal bit of newborn anatomy.
5. Soft, squishy poops after every feeding. Breastfed babies may poop after each feeding because breast milk is so quickly digested. (Bottlefed babies may have less-frequent bowel movements.) As far as the squishy issue is concerned, most newborn poops are soft simply because babies are on an all-liquid diet.
What Not to Worry About: #6 to #10
6. Constant hiccupping. Experts aren't exactly sure why young babies hiccup so much; some say it's due to a miscommunication between the brain and the diaphragm, the abdominal muscle that controls breathing. Regardless of their cause, hiccups are a harmless part of babyhood.
7. Crying. Newborns have an immature nervous system and startle easily, which are just two reasons why they shed so many tears. And crying is baby's only way of communicating his needs. Simply put, he's wired to cry a lot, so though he may look pained, he's not harming himself.
8. A pimply facial rash. Thanks to maternal hormones still circulating in their body, many newborns have acne, which usually occurs between 2 weeks and 2 months of age. It's harmless and just requires gentle cleaning, not Clearasil.
9. Swollen breasts on a newborn girl...or boy! Those same hormones that cause baby girls to have a mini period can also swell the breasts of babies of both genders. Alarming? Yes. Temporary? Absolutely. Worrisome? Not at all.
10. Sneezing all the time. Babies have tiny noses! Just a small bit of mucus will make them sneeze. And because your newborn has just emerged from his watery home in your uterus, he's likely to have at least a little congestion, which may cause quite a few sneezes. Unless his sneezing is accompanied by thick, yellow mucus, which indicates a cold, all that sneezing is just a phase he'll outgrow.
Denise Schipani is a mother of two who lives in Huntington, New York.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, January 2005.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.