I’m so excited to have Penny from Sick Happens joining us to chat about the crazy stuff newborns do, but no one talks about.
Penny has been a Paediatric Registered Nurse for over ten years. She has a Masters of Nursing and is a Mum to two gorgeous little boys.
Once becoming a parent, Penny found there was limited access to ongoing support, reassurance and education for parents around the everyday inevitable illnesses. Not to mention the confusion, anxiety, overwhelm and fear that surrounds these never-ending bouts of sickness.
Penny delivers evidence-based, practical education with empathy & reassurance.
Let’s chat about the crazy stuff newborns do, but no one talks about.
Have you ever seen little streaks of pink, orange or red in your brand new babies nappy?
Ever wondered what they are?
Or have you ever thought it was blood?
Thankfully, it is most likely urate crystals. Oh sounds fancy right, but what is it?
URATE CRYSTALS — aka uric acid crystals, urates, “brick stains” are a bi-product of healthy metabolism.
Babies are born with a high level of uric acid in their blood, and this is very normal. When they breast or bottle feed, their bodies breakdown this acid and it is excreted in their urine. It is excreted as a brick/orange/pink/terracotta coloured fluid.
This is very normal for the first few days of life.
However, this breakdown ‘should’ stop after about 3ish days. If you see this colour in their nappy after about 3-7 days of life, it’s best to chat to your healthcare provider because it may need further investigating.
Sometimes it is linked to a baby not feeding properly, or becoming slightly dehydrated, but this is not always the case. Take a photo if you are worried, or keep the nappy to show your midwife at your next check-up, or mention it to your GP/CFHN.
Have you seen these before, and did you have a little freak out thinking it was blood?
Now let’s get specific for the parents of little ladies.
Little girls can be confusing and bewildering for parents, especially if it is your first girl in the family. Regardless, there are still quite a few things about girls that sometimes aren’t communicated to parents before birth.
NAPPY WIPING/CLEANING – always remember to wipe from front to back (vulva to anus). And make sure to do a thorough job in between ALL the creases. Girls have a much higher risk of getting a urinary tract or bladder infection from insufficient cleaning techniques. However, some children are anatomically predisposed to urinary tract and bladder infections, so if your baby has recurrent UTIs it’s not always because of inadequate cleaning (so don’t stress)
LABIA – sometimes your daughters labia will be very swollen immediately after birth. This usually subsides after about ten days post partum, but it’s not uncommon to think they look larger than ‘normal’
DISCHARGE – during the first week of your daughters life, she will likely leak mucous/blood stained fluids from her vagina due to the surge of hormones when in utero. This should settle quickly, but if you are concerned at all, see your GP or CFHN.
LEAKING BREASTS – this one I’m talking about your baby, not you. Say what? Yes, sometimes your newborn baby can leak ‘breastmilk’ from their nipples in the postpartum period. Boys can also do this too. Although uncommon, there is nothing wrong. It is just a response to hormones during the transition to life outside of the womb. Again, just mention it to your healthcare provider but please don’t panic. I’ve seen this a couple of times when I used to work in the NICU, and each time both Mum and baby were crying at the time. I wonder if this is linked in some way?
Is there anything else I have missed? What else happened that you weren’t expecting with your little girl?
If you have a son, here are a few things that might not be talked about because people find them awkward or embarrassing. So I’ll start the discussion for you – let’s get into the nitty gritty! These things might be especially confronting and bewildering for mums that grew up in a household of girls 🙋♀️🙋♀️🙋♀️ me.
CLEANING – parents sometimes get conflicting advice about cleaning your son’s penis. You don’t need to retract the foreskin at all. In fact, doing this can cause damage as it is possible for the foreskin to become stuck, which leads to some serious problems. Once your son gains control of his hands, chances are they will dive straight to his penis. He will pull it around like he’s practicing some puppetry of the penis and sort out the stretching on his own terms. Keep an eye on any redness or discharge from the penis, and if so see your GP.
NAPPIES – Point the penis down in his nappy. Unless you like changing clothes a million times, you’ll work this one out quickly.
ERECTIONS – your son can get erections from birth. It’s completely normal, and not sexual in any way #stiffhappens 🤣 Please don’t shame your son, or create any negative associations with this. When your son is older (think toddler-ish) you can start to talk about private and public behaviours.
TESTICLES – it’s not uncommon to have undescended testes (cryptorchidism) at birth. Health professionals will check to see if your son’s testicles have come down into the scrotum. Often it can take some time (months) for them to come down properly, but this can still be normal. They may require repositioning surgery if the testicles remain undescended by roughly 12 months of age – but this decision will be made by a specialist.
PAIN – if your son has any pain in the groin area, particularly the testicles, this can be caused by a “testicular torsion”. This is when the testicles twist within the scrotum. This will require an emergency visit, because the testicle can die very quickly due to lack of blood supply, often requiring emergency surgery to rectify this. This is one NOT to waste time with.
Penny has created a signature online course called “Normal or Not?” — because it’s exactly that! It teaches you how to troubleshoot your way through working out what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to inevitable sicknesses in kids.
You can head to Penny’s website for all of the details and to find out when the doors will be opening next!