5 shocks for new moms

Birth and new motherhood are stressful enough without bizarre surprises. Prepare yourself for the following freaky realities:

1. Baby erections are normal

Men will be men – at any age. Even newborns get erections and this is totally natural. The penis contains millions of sensitive nerve endings so it’s inevitable that gentle handling or rubbing against nappies or even the sensation of warm bathwater may stimulate it. But it may also be a sign that they’re about to pee, so watch out!

2. I just gave birth to a conehead!

Birth is just as intense for baby as it is for you, and in a vaginal delivery every push for you is a squish for her. Luckily, newborn heads comprise two boney platelets instead of one solid skull, allowing it to mould its way through the birth canal with less damage to you both. This sometimes results in an elongated appearance which is absolutely normal, does not affect your baby’s brain, and will go down in a few days. Nothing to worry about – but it might be an idea to put off the newborn photo shoot for a few days.

3. Is his poo supposed to look like that??

With apologies to the squeamish (though you may want to get over that before you become a parent), most of us expect poo to look like, well, poo. So if you’re not warned, the sight of meconium – baby’s first black, tar-like excretions – can be a bit of a shock!

After a few days, Baby’s stools should settle into a regular routine of yellowy-brown or even green (speckled with mustard-seed-like curds if you’re breastfeeding). All a bit gross, but totally normal.

4. Why is my baby blue in the face?

It can be quite a terrifying experience for a new mother to watch her baby go blue around the mouth, especially if no-one has told you that this can be a perfectly common side effect of wind.

Of course, baby’s breathing is not an area in which you want to take chances – but don’t jump into default panic mode if slight blueness above the upper lip accompanies her crying. This is usually just a result of her immature circulatory system, and she will grow out of it. If she’s breathing normally, try winding her by gently rubbing her back while you hold her over your shoulder or knee.

5. The belly button rots

Yes, actually rots.Turns black and shrivels up. And then falls off. This is normal. The umbilical cord is no longer needed to connect baby to mom for sustenance, and the little stump left behind will become baby’s belly button. Clean it frequently with surgical spirits to prevent infection, and it should naturally fall off in the first few weeks. You might not want to keep this one for the scrapbook.

Knowledge is power, and I wish someone had warned me about these situations before I had to discover them myself, the hard way! It might have saved a few panicked midnight calls to the paed…

What do you wish you’d been warned about? What would you like to warn new mothers?

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