New born care week is celebrated every year in the country from 15th to 21st November. The objective behind celebrating the week is to raise awareness about the importance of the new born care for child survival and development.
The neonatal period (the first 28 days of life) is an important period for child survival; as this period carries the highest risk of deaths per day than any other period during the childhood. The first month of life is also a foundational period for lifelong health and development.
Healthy babies generally grow into healthy adults and it is supremely important to thrive and contribute to their communities and societies. Maternal nutrition plays a crucial role as a healthy diet of mother will ensure a healthy baby. Infectious diseases and neonatal complications are the leading causes of mortality among children under 5.
Why is care of a new born crucial?
Skilled care at birth and postnatal check-ups play an important role to the well-being of both mother and new born. Quality skilled care at birth would ensure that the new born receives essential new born care, and immediate breastfeeding.
Care of neonates:
A new born baby should be placed skin-to-skin on the chest right after birth and when placed in your arms. Some babies become familiar to breastfeeding right away while others get used to breastfeeding after a while. In the first two hours after birth, most babies are in an alert, wide awake phase.
Essential new born care includes:
- Immediate and thorough drying at the moment the baby is born
- Hygiene practices like caregiver should wash hands before handling baby.
- Skin to skin contact of the new born and the mother
- Early initiation of breastfeeding, and exclusive breastfeeding.
- Support your baby’s head and neck. Cradle the head when carrying the baby and support the head when carrying the baby upright or when laying the baby down.
- After the first hour of life, new borns should receive eye care, vitamin K, and recommended immunizations (birth dose of OPV and Hepatitis B vaccine, BCG).
- They should be assessed for birth weight, gestational age, congenital defects and signs of newborn.
- Special care should be provided for sick new borns, those who are preterm and/or low birth weight (premature babies), and those who are exposed or infected by HIV or have congenital syphilis.
- Certain types of massage may enhance bonding and help with infant growth and development.
Generally, newborns sleep a total of about 17 to 18 hours in 24 hours i.e. 8 to 9 hours in the daytime and a total of about 8 hours at night. Most babies don’t sleep through the night (6 to 8 hours) until at least 3 months of age. In many cases, your baby will wake up and be ready to eat at least every 3 hours.
Breast feeding is similar to like first vaccine for the new born baby, protecting the baby from ailments like jaundice and helping the baby provide nourishment to survive and grow. The first yellow milk that comes after birth (called colostrum) is too important for babies as it has essential nutrients. No gift is more precious than breastfeeding in infancy; yet barely one in three infants is exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life.
Prevention of Jaundice
Jaundice is generally observed in new born babies within 2-3 days and is yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes. It occurs when babies have elevated levels of bilirubin. Feeding your babies in first few hours can prevent the risk of jaundice. Milk gives babies the energy required by the liver to process bilirubin.
During the first years of life, nutrition and nurturing are both crucial for life-long health and well-being.