Freaky newborn things that are totally normal

Parenting a newborn is tough.  Not only do you feel like you are setting a record for lack of sleep, you have this tiny baby doing freaky things that contribute to that lack of sleep.  This of course, leads to a whole new level of anxiety that you didn’t think was possible.   First of all breathe!  Many of those newborn concerns turn out to be completely normal.  Let’s take a look at the top five things that freak new parents out:

Newborn rash:

Your baby starts breaking out in little ‘hives’ all over his/her body.  Immediate panic sets in as you Google “rashes” with one hand and call the doctor with the other.  The newborn rash, (erythema toxicum) is super common and affects about 50% of all newborns.   It typically shows up between days 3-5 after birth, lasts about a week (but can stick around as long as 4 months),  and no treatment is necessary.  It doesn’t seem to bother them, but it sure can worry new parents!  

Note: It never hurts to double check with your pediatrician to make sure you’re not dealing with a rash that can occur due to serious illnesses.  This is especially true if your baby seems lethargic, is running a fever or simply not his/her usual self.  

Blood coming from her vagina:

I’m not talking about mom’s vagina, which of course would be expected after delivery.  I’m talking about your newborn daughters vagina.  Yeah, it happens.  It can be perfectly normal to see bleeding or even vaginal discharge (physiologic leukorrhea) for about a week - usually starting around the 3rd day of her life.   This strange phenomena caused by the withdrawal of the hormones she was exposed to in the womb.  

Note: It’s okay to talk to your pediatrician about what is normal and what is not.  For example, he/she may tell you to let them know if it isn’t gone by a certain amount of time, or it is starts to have a foul odor.  

Milk coming out of his/her breasts:

Boy or girl, it doesn’t matter!  About 5% of all newborns will produce what we call “witches milk.”  The technical term is called galactorrhea. This is simply caused by the mother’s hormones that were passed to baby before birth.  This is usually gone by two weeks, but about 2 % will ‘lactate’ for up to two months.  You may also notice larger breast nodules on your baby during this time too.  No treatment is needed, but do watch for signs of infection. 

Note: Redness,  increased swelling, and/or fever may indicate your baby has mastitis, so take him/her into the pediatrician if this occurs.  I guess it should go without saying, that you should NOT do anything to get the milk out.  Please leave it alone.  No massage, or expression of milk please.  Seriously, folks, let it be.   

Brick Dust (orange, pink or red colored urine in the diaper):

In the first two-three days of life, your baby may be slightly dehydrated and this may cause a pink, red, or orange-colored, powdery stain in your baby's diaper called brick dust.  It looks like there might be blood in the urine, (though it's technically not) and is caused by a build up of uric acid crystals.  Parent's may also see a powdery substance (hence the name "brick dust").  Usually, once the mother's milk comes in, it should quickly disappear, not to be seen again.   

Please note:  This highly concentrated urine is okay in the first few days of life, but do take in the following considerations:

  • Is the baby getting enough wet diapers appropriate to his/her age?  (If not, contact your pediatrician or lactation consultant (IBCLC). 
  • Are you still seeing brick dust after day 4 of life?  (Contact a provider).

Breathing all kinds of funky:

While an adult averages between about 16-20 breaths per minute, a newborn baby may average between 30 and 50 breaths per minute.  This faster breathing is also accompanied by some erratic behavior; Quick breathing, followed by slow breathing and a few seconds of holding their breath is common.  (They just want to see you wet your pants a little).   As adults, we tend to breath fairly smooth and rhythmic, but watching a newborn breath can certainly turn your hair gray fast.

Please note the following signs may need to be addressed immediately by either calling 9-1-1 or a making a trip the closest ER:

  • If the area around your baby’s mouth or lips turns gray or blue
  • Chest retraction
  • Nasal flaring
  • Persistent grunting with each breath

It's important to note that talking to your pediatrician is always a good idea, (that's what they are there for), and listen to those parenting instincts.  Another helpful tip is to talk to your labor and delivery nurse, (or midwife) about what to expect in the early days at home, so that you are more prepared.

There are many other freaky newborn things that will most likely concern you, so consider taking a newborn class, or pick up a book or two on newborn basics. 

What freaked you out as a new mother or father?  Please feel free to post your stories or comments below! 

P.SYou might want to go ahead and put some money aside for washing the gray out of your hair!  

Medical Disclaimer:
The information on this website and blog is meant for basic informational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as medical advice or treatment. Readers are advised to consult with their doctor or midwife before making any decisions concerning their baby's health.