Dr. Charles Ison: The Horror of Baby’s 1st Night Home

Horror films. Frightening novels. Late-night campfire tales. That first drop on a new roller coaster.

None of these are as scary as that first night at home with your first newborn.

New babies are very different from other humans. They can look very odd to us. Their behaviors are strange.

Remember, though: we all started out like this.

Neonates can come in all kinds of different colors, often at the same time.

About half will be yellow from newborn jaundice. Cold air may make exposed skin look like red and white marble.

The cold can also make the hands and feet, and area around the mouth a purple color as the blood flow slows slightly in these areas (acrocyanosis).

Darker-complexioned babies will often have grey spots of various sizes on their bodies, especially on their backs (Mongolian spots).

The heads of newborns will often be coned or lopsided, especially if they are born vaginally. Heads can also have bruising at the top.

A baby’s eyelids are often puffy. Since babies often see double for the first few months, they will frequently peer at us with just one eye open.

Because the mother’s female hormones will still be in the baby’s circulation, they can have breast enlargement. Occasionally their breasts will produce milk.

A newborn girl may have a white vaginal discharge and occasionally even a bloody “period.” Both genders may have what looks like teen acne.

A circumcised boy infant’s penis will usually look like a bloody, yellow slimy mess as it heals. This is normal.

Newborns can breathe very strangely, especially when they are asleep.

This can be very off-putting for new parents, since babies spend most of their time sleeping.

They can do what is called periodic breathing – the newborn will have very shallow, rapid breathing followed by no breathing at all for a few seconds.

Then they will make an inspiratory gasp that sounds like that of a dying man’s. The pattern will then repeat.

When the newborn is hungry, he will release a blood-curdling scream. After eating, he will often be phlegmy and have a rattle when breathing like Darth Vader’s.

He may get hiccups for a very long time. When everything seems to be settling down, he may effortlessly spit up what looks like a whole lot of milk.

The second night with your first newborn is usually less scary than that first night.

So is the first night with the second baby.

Thankfully. Y