Is my newborn normal?
Among the common questions asked by new parents is: "Is my baby normal?"
Mums and dads may be concerned about unexpected birthmarks, pulsating soft spots, jaundice, skin rashes, eyes that cross, head lumps and bumps.
In many cases there's nothing to worry about, but if you have concerns, seek medical advice from a midwife, health visitor, or GP.
Your baby, head to toe
Brace yourself. You may very soon be cradling your own little ‘cone head’ in your arms!
Following a normal vaginal birth, the baby's head is fairly elongated and cone-shaped, and parents may be worried that's the way the child's head is going to be forever.
However, not only will the head shape change (usually within 48 hours or less) but that cone shape you may see at birth is quite normal.
The bones of the skull of a newborn are intentionally mobile. The birth canal is tight, and the bones are meant to give, allowing the head to pass through, which is what actually causes that elongated shape.
You may also see some swelling at the top of your newborn's head or sometimes even over the entire scalp.
The condition is caused by the fluids that are squeezed into the area during a vaginal delivery. Sometimes enough fluid collects so that, when pressed lightly, you can even see a small indentation.
Again, it is nothing to worry about.
It will resolve quite quickly, usually before the baby leaves the hospital.
What may take a little longer to disappear, however, is a condition known as cephalohaematoma, a collection of blood trapped between the skull and the lining. It frequently appears on day two of life and looks like an odd-shaped lump on the top of your newborn's head.
As scary as that sounds, doctors say do not fret.
It happens as part of the normal birthing process, it's not serious and not anyone's fault, and it does go away on its own, usually within a few months.
While you probably already know about your newborn's fontanel (those ‘soft spots’ on the top and back of the head) do not be surprised if they start to throb with every beat of your baby's heart!
Although this also looks scary, relax - the pulsating is normal, and the soft spot is tougher than you think.
It is supposed to be soft, because it allows for the rapid growth of the brain that occurs in the first year of life. You can touch it - it's not that fragile. Within 12 to 18 months the soft spot will resolve and your baby's skull will uniformly harden.