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Newborn Healthcare
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If this is your first baby, you might worry that you are not ready to take care of a newborn. You're not alone. Lots of new parents feel unprepared when it's time to bring their new babies home from the hospital. You can take steps to help yourself get ready for the transition home.
 
Taking a newborn care class during your pregnancy can prepare you for the real thing. But feeding and diapering a baby doll isn't quite the same. During your hospital stay, make sure to ask the nurses for help with basic baby care. Don't hesitate to ask the nurse to show you how to do something more than once! Remember, practice makes perfect. Before discharge, make sure you — and your partner — are comfortable with these newborn care basics:
 
Handling a newborn, including supporting your baby's neck
Changing your baby's diaper
Bathing your baby
Dressing your baby
Swaddling your baby
Feeding and burping your baby
Cleaning the umbilical cord
Caring for a healing circumcision
Using a bulb syringe to clear your baby's nasal passages
Taking a newborn's temperature
Tips for soothing your baby
Before leaving the hospital, ask about home visits by a nurse or health care worker. Many new parents appreciate somebody checking in with them and their baby a few days after coming home. If you are breastfeeding, ask whether a lactation consultant can come to your home to provide follow-up support, as well as other resources in your community, such as peer support groups.
 
Many first-time parents also welcome the help of a family member or friend who has "been there." Having a support person stay with you for a few days can give you the confidence to go at it alone in the weeks ahead. Try to arrange this before delivery.
 
Your baby's first doctor's visit is another good time to ask about any infant care questions you might have. Ask about reasons to call the doctor. Also ask about what vaccines your baby needs and when. Infants and young children need vaccines because the diseases they protect against can strike at an early age and can be very dangerous in childhood. This includes rare diseases and more common ones, such as the flu.
 
Caring for your baby's umbilical stump
Shortly after your baby is born, your midwife will clamp and cut his umbilical cord. Neither you nor your baby will feel anything when this happens, as there are no nerves in the cord.
 
Where the cord joins your newborn's tummy, he'll have a 2cm to 3cm-long stump. You'll need to keep it clean and free from infection until it falls off.
 
How long will my baby have an umbilical stump?
 
Your baby's stump will drop off any time between five days and 15 days after he's born. The average is about a week if it is kept dry.
 
When your baby's born, your midwife will put a plastic clamp or a tie on the stump. She may take this off once the stump has dried and sealed,
 
How can I care for my baby's stump?
 
You'll need to keep your baby’s umbilical stump clean and dry to prevent it from becoming infected. Always wash your hands before and after you change his nappy, wash him or handle his stump. Dress your baby in loose clothing, to allow air to get to the cord.
 
You can keep the stump clean by giving your baby a bath or topping and tailing him with a warm, moist flannel or sponge. You can use plain water, or a mild, liquid baby cleanser that you've added to his bathwater.
 
How long will it take for the belly button to heal?
 
After the stump falls off there will be a small wound, which may take between seven days and 10 days for the area to heal completely. You may see a little blood on your baby's nappy. This is quite normal.
 
 
How will I know if my baby's stump is infected?
 
It’s normal for your baby's stump to look a bit mucky as it’s healing, or even to have pus at the base. This doesn’t mean that it’s infected.
 
However, if your baby has the following symptoms, then his stump may be infected:
 
His navel and the surrounding area is swollen or red.
The stump is swollen, smelly or weepy
He has a fever.
He is lethargic, showing a lack of interest in feeding or appears generally unwell.
 
If your baby has any of these signs call your midwife or doctor.
 
Common childhood diseases
Whooping cough
Symptoms
Whooping cough is a bacterial infection affecting the respiratory system, caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.
The condition is characterised by fever, nasal discharge and long fits of coughing followed by wheezy breathing and possibly vomiting. Symptoms are typically worse at night.
 
Incubation period
This begins from seven days after exposure to the condition.
 
Infectious period
The disease is especially contagious during the first week, while the child still has a trace of a cold.
Although the irritating cough has been known to go on for up to 3 months, the infectiousness wears off within five to seven weeks.
It is important to keep the child away from other children under the age of one year.
Children should be excluded from school until they have completed five days of antibiotic treatment.
Prevention
In the UK, children are vaccinated against the condition with a series of three injections, one month apart starting at 2 months; and again with a 'pre-school booster' injection aged between 3 and 4 years.
 
 
Three-day-fever (roseola infantum)
Symptoms
A child with three-day-fever has a high fever for three days.
The fever then drops and the child develops a rash consisting of pale, reddish spots, perhaps with small heads. It affects the body and spreads to the arms and legs, lasting for about 12-14 hours. Then its over. It is mostly seen in children under the age of three years.
 
Incubation period
Between 10 to 15 days from being exposed to the infection and showing symptoms.
Infectiousness
It is contagious during the whole period of the disease and up to two to three days after.
Avoid contact with other children less than three years of age during the whole period. Children may go back to childcare when their temperature has returned to normal.
 
 
Hand, foot and mouth disease
Symptoms
This condition can be due to a number of different enteroviruses, causing the child to develop a large number of small spots and blisters, particularly in the mouth and on the feet and hands. The disease can cause a fever of up to 39ºC for a few days.
 
Incubation period
Two to three days between being exposed to the infection and showing symptoms.
 
Infectious period
The disease is contagious as long as blisters or spots are still present. Once the rash has disappeared the child is able to return to child care/school once they are considered to be well enough to do so.
 
Scarlet fever
Symptoms
This condition is caused by a strain of streptococcus bacterium and is caught through droplet infection from the coughs and sneezes of an infected individual.
The child has a slight to moderate fever, a sore throat and a flushed face.
The characteristic rash, which is often located in their armpits or groin, spreading to the torso and neck is typically slightly rough to the touch and pink-red in colour. The child's skin peels and they get a coarse, pink tongue – a condition known as strawberry tongue.
 
Incubation period
Three to eight days between being exposed to the infection and showing symptoms.
Infectiousness
Scarlet fever is contagious for the first few days, but after three days of antibiotics the risk is almost gone.
The disease remains contagious for between 10 days and 3 weeks if left untreated.
Children should be excluded from school for five days after commencing antibiotic treatment.
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