Common Concerns in the Early Weeks – Part One

So much happens so fast as your baby adjusts to life outside the womb and you adjust to life with this little person. Knowing what to expect and understanding why babies do what they do will help you ease more comfortably into parenting.


Early Newborn Changes

Big changes occur in your newborn Part of getting to know your child is cherishing these fleeting changes.

Breathing Patterns and Sounds

Watch your newborn breathe. Notice the irregular patterns. Baby takes many short breaths of varying lengths,Common Concerns in the Early Weeks - Part One Articles an occasional deep sigh, and even has a worrisome ten-to-fifteen-second period when she doesn’t appear to breathe; then baby breathes deeply (and so do you), and the cycle continues. Called periodic breathing, this irregular pattern is normal for the first few weeks. Breathing becomes more regular by the end of the first month. The younger or more premature the baby, the more irregular the breathing.

First “cold.”
Because the nasal passages are small in the newborn, even a slight amount of clogging can cause noisy, uncomfortable breathing You may think that this is your baby’s first cold. But, although very loud and noisy, these early sniffles are usually not caused by an infection. Babies’ nasal passages are easily congested with lint from blankets or clothing, dust, milk residue, or environmental irritants such as cigarette smoke, perfumes, hair sprays, and aerosols. A stuffy nose may cause baby a lot of difficulty breathing because newborns are obligate nose breathers, meaning they need to breathe through their noses rather than their mouths. A newborn with a stuffy nose does not switch easily to breathing with her mouth but rather struggles to get more air through her nose. One of the reasons that newborns sneeze a lot is to clear their nasal passages. It is unlikely to be her first cold. She is trying to clear her nose.

Gagging and choking.
Your baby’s lungs were filled with fluid while in the womb. Most of this fluid was squeezed out of the lungs during passage through the birth canal or was suctioned by the doctor or nurse after birth. Your baby may cough up some remaining mucus, which momentarily sticks to the back of the throat. Baby gags, then swallows the excess mucus and is all right/ Placing baby on her side prevents this mucus from pooling in the back of the throat.