“Is That My Baby?!”

by Alice Lesch Kelly

“Is That My Baby?!”

After nine months scrunched up in the womb  — and a bumpy trip through the birth canal  — your baby may look less than perfect when you two first meet. Don’t worry, it’s temporary:

A misshapen head. A newborn’s noggin is pliable so it can pass easily through the birth canal. Because of this, a baby born vaginally may have a bit of a conehead or a lump from pressing against the cervix. In a couple of days, his head should be round.

Skin surprises. No, it’s not early puberty! The fine brown or black body hair (lanugo) that’s usually shed in the womb can linger on some newborns, especially premature ones. It usually disappears within a few weeks. And all babies are covered in vernix, a cheeselike substance that protects the skin in the womb; the nurse will clean it off.

A disproportioned body. His head will likely look bigger than his body (which will catch up in six months to a year), and the genitals or breasts (in girls and boys) can be shockingly large; your hormones cause them to swell.

Puffy eyes. After getting antibiotic drops at birth, his eyes may swell or run for 12 hours or so.

Unsightly stump. The cord stump may be bloody and runny, and a few days after birth it turns black and shrivels. It’ll fall off in one to three weeks. Until then, expose it to air, and sponge-bathe your baby.