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What Your Baby May Look Like

Your baby’s appearance may be a shock.

Your baby’s appearance may be a shock. Your baby has just been through the most hazardous journey it is likely to have in its life. It’s realistic to expect a few bruises and blotches underneath the smearing of blood and vernix caseosa.




A newborn immediately after a Caesarean delivery.

The Head

Pressure exerted during delivery can temporarily distort the shape of your baby’s head. If it was a forceps or vonteuse vacuum extraction assisted delivery, your baby’s head is likely to be bruised or misshapen. The bones on top of its skull have not yet knitted together and this will not occur for another 18 months. In some cases cranial sacral therapy may be advised during this time as a form of aftercare for your baby. Although your newborn is likely to have hair this is likely to be congealed with a combination of blood and vernix, a creamy substance coating your baby’s skin that acts as protection in the womb. The hair on its head is often a different shade to that which will grow to replace the original hair.

The Skin

Often covered in a mixture of blood and the thick, protective creamy substance called vernix caseosa, the skin may be a dull bluish-grey in the first few minutes following birth before oxygen is taken in. As blood begins to circulate, the skin tone will become pink. Many babies are born with a yellow tone, a sign of jaundice as a result of a build up of bile in the blood. This usually disappears within a few days but if it does not, ultraviolet light treatment is often recommended. The vernix, considered an ultimate massage lotion, is easily absorbed and is highly nourishing for your baby’s skin.

Often the skin is wrinkled and takes a while to smooth out. Some babies have harmless patches of slate-blue skin on their tummies and back known as Mongolian spots. There may be tiny white or yellowish spots under the skin, particularly around the bridge of the nose. These are called milia and are caused by skin glands unblocking themselves. Red spots, blotches and rashes are also common. Most blemishes will disappear by the time your baby is two weeks old. If your baby is born premature, it is likely to be covered in lanugo, a dark hair that drops out in the first few weeks.


The brow is usually sloped back and rather low in a newborn. A baby born in a posterior position will have a high dome-shaped head. A newborn’s skull, however, is flexible enough to regain shape after birth.

The Eyes

Pressure in the birth canal often causes swollen, puffy eyelids and squinting eyes. It is common for your baby to appear cross-eyed during the first few months as the eyes adjust to life outside the womb. True eye colour does not develop until up to six months. 

Umbilical Stump

After the umbilical cord is cut and clamped, your baby will be left with a stub with a peg-like clip on it. The stump, often long and bloodied, will fall off in a week or so. Diluted essential oil of teatree or lavender on a soft muslin facecloth can be used to wipe clean the stump. 

Hands & Feet

If your baby’s circulation is slow to start, its hands and feet may be bluish at first but will turn pink. Tiny fingernails are often long at birth. 

The Breasts

These are often swollen at birth and leak milk. This is perfectly normal in both sexes as a result of hormonal levelling in the mother and baby. The swelling will subside within a couple of days.

The Genitals

A boy is often born with his testicles pulled up into his groin. These will descend later but may be seem worryingly small at first. More commonly the genitals of both sexes seem disproportionately large and swollen and sometimes a girl has vaginal discharge that will soon disappear. Some baby girls also have a menstrual-like discharge in response to the withdrawal of maternal oestrogen levels. All this is normal and has no cause for alarm.

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