Kids are the lifelines of all households. Their laughter fills the home with positive vibes. At the same time, the tantrums and fake cries of a newborn baby also grab a lot of attention, especially if it’s the first child of the new generation. Everyone is extra-cautious about the tiniest detail, be it its cry for hunger or cry for change of diaper just to keep the newborn baby healthy.
The most vulnerable period being the neonatal period, a period of extensive transition from uterine to external world, which lasts up to the first 28 days of a newborn’s life. Newborns are unique in their physiology and hence in their health problems. This is the phase of life with the greatest risk of mortality. Elders suggest their ancient health remedies that are passed onto generation after generation. No doubt they are the proven age-old practices but some need to be modified as per the medical standards.
Let’s discuss what are the major health hazards that can attack a newborn during this time and how can we prevent them in the long run?
Major Causes of Neonatal Deaths, as per the 2010 Census:
- Preterm complications (35%)
- Birth Asphyxia (20%)
- Pneumonia (16%)
- Infections (15%)
- Malformations (9%)
- Diarrhea (2%)
- Others (3%)
How to Keep Your Newborn Baby Healthy?
1) Before Birth:
Care of Mother: Health of a newborn baby is greatly affected by the health of the mother during the phase of pregnancy and childbirth. The first stepping-stone to a healthy newborn is proper care of the mother both in her pre-pregnant and pregnant state. You should ensure she has been undergoing regular antenatal check-ups and ultrasound scans. She has been eating healthy, sleeping well and her activities are limited. Not just physical but mental health is important too. Family support is one positive factor in keeping the newborn baby healthy.
2) During Childbirth:
Place of delivery: The time of childbirth is also considered a critical time which determines the subsequent health of the newborn baby. If it is a renowned hospital, standard precautions for asepsis of the newborn baby at birth will be of utmost importance. Not only during childbirth but also during the postnatal stay, newborn will be under the care of supervised doctors to avoid any risks.
3) After Birth:
Adequate Breastfeeding: Mother should ensure that the baby is feeding well. In case the breast milk is not enough or baby is unable to feed due to any reason, alternate feeding techniques like spoon or paladai feeding should be encouraged. She should be clearly taught about the necessary techniques well in advance to build her confidence regarding its details. Trust us this is the most important part in keeping your newborn baby healthy.
We recommend you must read: Increased Breastfeeding Can Save Lives
Care of Malnourished Newborns: In addition to the common neonatal health problems, malnourished newborns have to face additional morbidity problems for which they should be under the supervision of the experts.
Immunization: This is the most important step in preventing diseases among newborns. Parents should be clearly explained about its schedule and why is it important not to be missed. Some are given during the initial days of hospital stay like BCG and OPV first dose while for others, proper schedule and dates are provided like Measles, OPV second, third doses and so on.
Everyone is provided with a maternity and a child health card, which includes the details of all the required vaccinations for the mother and the child. This avoids any confusion in the future both for the parents and the treating doctor.
Danger Signs Explained: These include any difficulty in feeding the newborn baby, fever, convulsions, severe chest indrawing. Parents should be well aware to recognize these signs and take immediate action for the welfare of their newborn. Baby should be taken to the nearest health center at the earliest and managed.
Follow-up Routine: The first follow-up visit should be within a week of discharge from hospital to ensure that the newborn baby has adapted itself to the home environment. The subsequent follow-ups are based on the health risk and immunization schedule of the baby. In case the baby was a complicated delivery or a preterm delivery with complications, he/she may be called for frequent visits.
Growth Monitoring: This is important in assessing the nutritional status of the newborn baby. It is also helpful in ensuring the adequacy of feeding whether the baby is having adequate weight gain or not. Growth charts are hence a useful means for monitoring the growth of the baby.
Know the average growth of weight and height in newborns:
What Problems Do Low-Weight Babies May Have:
- Breathing Problems
- Low Blood Sugar (because of very small amount of energy stored)
- Prone to Infections (as the immunity level is low)
- Low Body Temperature (due to low fat present in the body)
- Feeding Problems (due to small size, lack of energy and inability to suck)
- Jaundice and bleeding problems
You might be feeling apprehensive about taking care of your little bundle of joy but you need not worry. These feelings and fears are quite natural. Newborn health is the key to child health and survival. Once you get the basics of how to make your newborn baby healthy, further journey of raising your beloved will just go with the flow. Keep calm and go on to experience this new phase in your life journey.