If you’re a new mom or dad, you probably have only one main concern—the health of your newborn. It’s only natural to worry. But, one way you can decrease any worries is to arm yourself with information. Learn what symptoms to be on alert for and when to get medical care.
Get accustomed to your newborn’s usual routine. For example, how often does your baby eat and sleep? How many times do you usually need to change a diaper in one day? How does your baby normally respond to you? Your baby’s typical behavior will help you to determine if your baby is feeling fine or if something is wrong.
Also, go with your instinct. If you think your baby may be ill, call the doctor right away. It is common for parents of newborns to call the pediatrician with questions and concerns. So, don’t hesitate to get expert advice.
You will feel more in control if you already have the following medical information close at hand: The name of your newborn’s doctor and the phone numberThe doctor’s office hours and on-call hoursInstructions as to what to do during after-hoursLocation of the hospital that the doctor is affiliated withThe name, phone number, and location of the pharmacy that you use
If you do need to call the doctor, be prepared for any questions that you may be asked, such as: What are your newborn’s symptoms?What is his temperature? (Note: Rectal thermometers are typically used with newborns.)How many bowel movements has he had? Does he have loose stools? How many wet diapers has he had?What vaccines has your newborn had? Are they up-to-date?Does he have any allergies or conditions?Does your newborn take any medicine? If so, what kind of medicine and what is the dose?
Also, keep in mind that you may need to write down any instructions that the nurse or doctor gives you. So, have a pen and paper handy.
Another way you can be prepared is by learning first aid and CPR for infants. The hospital may offer these classes or you can check online (American Red Cross or the American Heart Association).
Call the doctor if your newborn: Has a coughHas any eye problems, such as mucus or rednessHas a runny nose, which can make it difficult to breath, even after using a rubber bulb aspiratorYellowish skin or eyes, without any other concerning symptomsIs vomitingIs eating less than usual or is having problems with breastfeeding, such as difficulty latching onto the nippleIs not having regular bowel movements Has stools that are looser than normalIs crying more than usual and is unable to be consoledHas problems sleeping Has blood or pus around the navel, or if circumcised, around the penisHas a rashHas ear drainageIs not responding to sounds
If your newborn has any of the following, call your doctor immediately: Rectal temperature above 100.4°F (38°C) Rectal temperature below 97.8°F (36.5°C)Any breathing problems, like difficulty breathing or fast breathing Other signs of not getting enough oxygen, like blue lips, nose, or fingernailsExtreme tiredness or drowsiness, difficulty awakeningIs limpSigns of dehydration, such as wetting less than six diapers in 24 hours, sunken eyes, sunken soft spot, no tears when cryingSoft spot on the top of the head looks swollenSeizureBloody urine, stool, or vomitInjury to any part of the body, especially the head
If you are extremely concerned and you think the situation is an emergency, call for medical help right away.
You can care for your newborn’s health by knowing which symptoms to watch out for and by being prepared if medical care is needed. Remember that many moms and dads have felt the same way you do and have reached out for help and guidance from doctors and nurses. If at any time you feel concerned about your little one’s health, call the doctor.