Is My Newborn Normal?
To help prepare you for those first hours, days, and weeks of life, here's a head-to-toe guide to newborn health.
Rashes, Lumps, and Bumps
Newborns are notorious for developing what seem like strange transitory rashes, the most common being erythema toxicum, red spots with a yellow or whitish center that often resemble flea bites.
But before you send Fido packing, Hubbard says take heart; it's probably just a normal newborn rash.
"It can be scary because lesions can pop up, go away, and new ones pop up within hours, and the skin can redden. But it's not serious and usually resolves within seven days or less," says Hubbard.
Slightly less common -- but still normal -- are Mongolian spots. These are bluish patches frequently found on the lower back or buttocks, though they can crop up almost anywhere on your newborn's body. They can look like bruises and usually occur on babies that have darker skin. Hubbard says they usually disappear within the first year of life.
Likewise with those blotchy red patches that occur on the face and neck of up to one-third of all newborns. Charmingly called "stork bites," they may become more noticeable when your baby cries. They spontaneously disappear usually within 18 months.
Surprises Down Under
No matter how prepared you are for most newborn "surprises," there's hardly a parent alive who isn't just a little shaken up when they gaze at their baby's genitals for the first time.
That's because they are usually abnormally large. In fact they are much larger and darker in color than you might expect on any child.
"In boys, swelling of the scrotum can be quite impressive and the tissue very red. In girls, the vulva is extremely swollen and also darker in color, both largely the result of the mother's hormones," says Shelov.
Something else that takes most parents by surprise is that baby girls often have a white vaginal discharge following birth, as well as one or two days of blood streaks.
"The vaginal mucosa is very hormone sensitive, so once the mother's hormones are out of the baby's system, there will be a little bleeding. It usually occurs within 72 hours and then stops," says Shelov. The enlarged genitals in boys and girls lasts a bit longer -- about a month.
When it comes to the umbilical cord, Hirschenfang says many new parents get a little bit hysterical. It typically falls off within seven to 10 days, resulting in a temporary bloody discharge.
"It's nothing to worry about. Just try to diaper below the cord so no urine sits on it, and don't bathe your baby in a tub of water until the cord falls off and there is no more discharge," he says.
And while he says the cord area can be red or smell just a bit "gamy," neither problem is cause for alarm. Touching the cord doesn't cause baby any pain!