Having a newborn baby, especially if it’s your first, could cause parents a lot of stress if they don’t know what’s medically normal. Is my baby too fat or if his temperature is too high or if she's eating correctly? Dr. Suresh Chandran will tell you what to look out for in your newborn, and when it’s necessary to see a doctor.
Weight: On average, most babies weigh 2.5kg if they’re born on term (after completion of 37 weeks), but if they weigh significantly lower, then the baby may be labeled as a growth retarded baby and should require a doctor’s attention for the first few months. If a baby weighs more than 4kg, then the baby is labeled LGA (large for gestational age), usually a result of a diabetic mother. At this weight, risks include birth injuries and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and should require immediate medical attention, monitoring and early feeding.
Temperature: Temperature is usually a problem in preterm babies (born before the full 37 weeks) or growth retarded babies. Normally, babies born at term have a special fat called ‘Brown Fat’ which is used to generate heat. Preterm and growth restricted babies do not have this fat and are susceptible to hypothermia (i.e. low temperature). Dr. Suresh advices that these babies need to be well-clothed, with a cap and mittens, to avoid heat loss in their head and limbs. He also advises that since we’re in a warm country, cotton clothes and close monitoring of the baby’s temperature should be maintained, to avoid overheating.
Feeding: Early introduction and a mother’s wellbeing are crucial to initiating let down. Breastfeeding should be continued for as long as 24 months, since the high quality protein it does contain is richer in quality than formula or cow’s milk. Milk should be producing at the rate of 600-800ml of milk per day through infancy, and you should check if the baby is drinking enough by monitoring weight gain and satiation cues. For example, alternate breasts every other feed and if the baby continues to suckle after the supply has run out, in order to avoid baby’s exhaustion and weight loss.
Look out for the next article in this series of three articles. Dr. Suresh Chandran [MD, MRCP, MRCPCH (UK), DCH, FRCPCH (Lond), CCST] is the Consultant Neonatologist available exclusively at Royal Bahrain Hospital from September 10th until September 17th. Call 1724 6800 to book your appointment now.