The first days and weeks of motherhood are an incredible time. It’s all amazement at the miracle of childbirth and exploration of this new being you’ve brought into the world. Everything is fresh, and while the excitement will probably cover up the exhaustion at first, there’s also quite a bit of uncertainty and fear. This is especially true if you’ve just had your first child. Many new mothers spend weeks worrying about every little sniffle or rash, and hover over their babies for most of the night just to make sure they are still breathing. It’s all totally natural; you worked so hard to bring this bundle of joy into the world, and he or she is so small and delicate. Most of the time your worrying does nothing but give you some new wrinkles, as your baby will get through his early days with very few problems. But newborns can certainly get sick, and the key is getting them the help they need just as soon as possible. But how do you do that when they can’t communicate with you? Here are five signs your newborn is actually sick, and needs some sort of medical attention.
First of all, keep an eye out for strange rashes. Newborn skin is delicate, and they are liable to have some passing issues. But what you will notice is something that grows significantly, or if the placement is concerning. If the rash covers your baby’s face, or involves the navel or remnants of the umbilical cord or the private parts, these are all problem signs. Keep an eye on the issue, and call your doctor if you are really concerned. But if you note a rash that is swelling or bleeding, or seems infected in some way, get the doctor on the phone right away.
If your baby has difficulty breathing, this could be a sign of some serious trouble. Luckily, the symptoms are pretty obvious. Look out for rapid breathing, or if your baby grunts when he exhales. If his head bobs, or if his skin or lips take on a bluish hue you should go for help immediately. Finally, look at your baby in the area above his collar bones, between his ribs or at the upper abdomen. If any of those places suck in when he inhales, there may be a blockage.
A fever is one symptom that could mean many things. It’s not an illness per se, but the body’s response to something, usually an infection. If your notice your newborn is more irritable than usual, isn’t feeding well or seems to have a stiff neck take his temperature. If the rectal temperature is higher than 100.3 F, or if he measures higher than 101 F by the mouth, call the doctor.
Dehydration and diarrhea are two symptoms that seem to go hand in hand, and both could lead to trouble if left unchecked. Dehydration can also develop out of a fever or from too much diarrhea. Look out for a dry gums or mouth, if your baby doesn’t have any tears when he cries or if the fontanel actually seems to sink in a touch when he cries. With diarrhea, you’ll have to learn the difference between your baby’s normal behavior and a problem. Basically, if it happens more than six times a day and your baby isn’t taking in fluids you should call the doctor. And always seek medical help if his stools have blood in them.
Vomiting is another sign of trouble. I know, if you logged in to medicalinsurance.net to get your policy information every time your newborn vomited you’d have no fingers left. But again, you need to look out for abnormal behavior. The standard “spit up” is fine. But if he vomits more than twice, or if the vomit is greenish or has blood in it you should get to the doctor. Vomiting also often goes hand in hand with dehydration, so you can look out for those symptoms here as well.