We can't repeat it often enough: cuddle, cuddle, cuddle. Especially the first skin-to-skin contact is extremely important for your baby's development and has a beneficial effect on mommy's body. But daddy is just as important! It's up to him to cut the symbolic (yet important) umbilical cord. And you've probably heard of them: fontanels. They help your baby through the birth canal. But what is it exactly?
Fontanelles, you have probably heard of them. They are the two openings between the skull bones of your baby. The large fontanelle is on top of your baby's head and the small fontanelle is at the back of your baby's head. These can slide over each other during birth, allowing the head to adapt to the birth canal. The fontanels also ensure that the brain and skull have enough room to grow (Health Square, 2020). The small fontanel has already closed after almost two months, the large fontanel takes a little longer. It takes about six to eighteen months to grow closed (GGD). Parents often find the idea of the fontanelles scary, but you can touch the skin over the fontanelles. The brain is well protected by the hard meninges and connective tissue. So you can wash your baby's hair and stroke its head regularly.
Cutting the umbilical cord
During pregnancy, you were connected to your baby by the umbilical cord. When your little one is born, the umbilical cord will have to be cut. The umbilical cord is tied close to the belly of the baby and then cut. Often this is done by the father as a symbolic act, but don't worry, dads. Nothing is compulsory, everything is allowed! The umbilical cord is quite stiff and cutting it can be a bit like cutting a garden hose. Despite being attached to mom and baby, cutting the umbilical cord doesn't hurt because there are no nerves running through it (Health Net, 2016).
Usually, the umbilical cord is cut within 10 to 15 seconds after delivery, but more and more studies show that it is beneficial for the baby to wait a little longer, at least 30 to 60 seconds, and to cut the umbilical cord only after it has burst. This so-called late cutting has the advantage that the number of red blood cells in the baby increases, which helps against anaemia, for example. Therefore premature babies are always waited a bit longer before they are cut. Preterm babies often have a lot of blood taken, so the more red blood cells, the better (RTL News, 2017)!
After cutting the umbilical cord, the stump remains. Wash it once a day with water and be careful that the diaper is not over the stump. If this is unavoidable, make sure the diaper is not too tight (GGD). After a while, the navel stump will dry and shrivel up and fall off the abdomen. This takes up to fourteen days, after which only a scar remains: the navel (Health Net, 2016).
Hug, hug, hug
We can't say it often enough, but give your baby lots of hugs. Skin-to-skin contact is extremely important for newborn babies because it helps to regulate their heart rate, blood pressure and hormone levels. After delivery, you usually get your baby on your belly or chest immediately. This way he can recover well from the birth and it stimulates the natural reflexes of your little one. It is recommended that the first skin-to-skin contact lasts at least an hour (but longer is always possible of course!). And it's not just good for the baby, skin-to-skin contact also helps the placenta to be born faster and makes it easier to breastfeed. Don't worry, daddy, you are also important during the first hours of your little one's life! Even though you can't breastfeed, your skin can serve as a nice, warm nest (Trade journal Vroeg, 2020). Dads and moms ready, cuddle up.
The first feeding
The first breast milk is called colostrum and is full of antibodies and growth factors (ScienceDirect, 2002). This way, your baby is well protected against all kinds of germs. And it is not only good for your baby, but by breastfeeding, the placenta is born faster and under the influence of the hormone oxytocin, which is released by breastfeeding, your uterus shrinks faster and you lose less blood. So feel free to breastfeed your little one right after giving birth. He often knows exactly how to do this because of his innate sucking reflex. This reflex is strongest in the first hour after birth, but will continue for a few hours to days (Midwives De Vallei). Want to know more about breastfeeding? At this blog you can read more.
Welcome, little one.
When your baby sets foot on this earth there are many things he is not used to. There is suddenly much more light, he hears many more sounds and it is suddenly much colder than in the warm belly of mama. In the womb, a baby can already distinguish between light and dark. If mama stands in front of a lamp or the sun shines brightly, the child can perceive a pink haze. When he is born, everything is suddenly much brighter. He can't really see yet, but he is curious. Babies are especially interested in the human face. He will be able to distinguish things close by to some extent, but anything further than 20 centimetres is still blurred. After about six months, a baby's vision is as good as that of an adult (Child and Family). A baby can already perceive sounds when he is still in the womb. He hears the mother's heart and starts to recognize her voice, even after birth. He will therefore be most interested in the sounds he hears when he is still inside the womb. Think of your voice, your heartbeat and your favorite song that is always on repeat (Child and Family).
It is normal for your little one to be a little restless after the birth. You have both delivered a heavy (top) performance. After a while his heartbeat will slow down and he will relax more. Take him into your warm mummy's nest and... cuddle!
Colostrum and its benefits: a review. (2002, June 1). Consulted from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0271531702003731?casa_token=Ri-BD5_GEREAAAAA:vWGxMSmCez1xyHubcT2KDASjhhnRorVYq6VHhRDU7GB9O1553YxUBFTiyPitzWMYVuOnG26k1Ojq
Experts: wait longer to cut the umbilical cord. (2017, March 6). Accessed from https://www.rtlnieuws.nl/node/176441
Fontanel. (2020, June 10). Accessed from https://www.gezondheidsplein.nl/aandoeningen/fontanel/item123680
Fontanel: GGD Utrecht region. (s.d.). Consulted from https://www.ggdru.nl/mijn-kind/opvoeden-en-opgroeien/baby/ontwikkeling/lichamelijke-ontwikkeling/fontanel
How to care for the navel stump. (s.d.). Consulted from https://www.ggdhvb.nl/jeugdgezondheidzorg/veelgestelde-vragen/gezondheid/hoe-moet-ik-het-navelstompje-verzorgen
Hearing. (s.d.). Consulted from https://www.kindengezin.be/ontwikkeling/zintuigen/horen/#:%7E:text=In%20de%20baarmoeder%20hoort%20een,hoorde%2C%20herkennen%20na%20de%20geboorte.&text=Een%20baby%20kan%20de%20eerste,de%20eerste%20dag%20niets%20horen.
Afterbirth era. (s.d.). Consulted from https://verloskundigen-devallei.nl/bevallen/de-bevalling/nageboorte/
Editorial. (2020, December 14). Skin craving essential basic need of every baby. Consulted from https://www.vakbladvroeg.nl/huidhonger-essentiele-basisbehoefte-van-iedere-baby/
What you should know about the navel. (2016, December 8). Accessed from https://www.gezondheidsnet.nl/uiterlijk/wat-je-moet-weten-over-de-navel