Fundamentals and Salient Features of the New Born Baby - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India
Health Education

Your Awareness About The New Arrival

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 20 Sep 2014 - 13:29.

By new arrival we mean either the birth of the first baby and hence a new arrival to the parents or it also means the birth of a baby unto a family already having children heralding the arrival of a new baby adding to the existing number of siblings.

In either case we treat this as new arrival also termed as the newborn baby. The new arrival into the family, meaning the birth of a first child or even a second child, is always a welcome and a wonderful feeling for the family and the mother herself.

Several factors play a role in the successful birth of a baby. Starting from conceiving to carrying, maintaining and delivering the newborn, these factors are jointly responsible to work in unison for the successful birth of the newborn baby.

It is very important for the mother to know and understand salient features of the newborn baby from the moment of the birth of the baby. Knowing the fundamentals of the new born is important for the mother to know, how to handle and deal with the new born from feeding to clothing to the behavioral aspects to the health issues since birth of the child.

Following are the fundamentals and salient features of the new born baby:

Moment of the birth: As soon as the baby is born the umbilical cord which was the main stay for the nourishment during the entire period of pregnancy is cut between two knots (to avoid bleeding) leaving a stump of about 2 to 3 inches, after cleaning the stump with an antiseptic to avoid infection.

The moment the baby is taken out as a free individual to live and adjust to the external atmosphere, the baby is wrapped and taken to the recovery room while in the meanwhile the mother is taken care, padding and dressing up depending upon the mode of delivery.

In most cases the pediatrician determines the condition of the new born by the Apgar score, which totals the points and pronounces the health of the baby depending on the score. The mother should be educated about the Apgar score to understand the condition of her baby.

(Apgar score is a scale which doctors calculate to see how the newborn is doing minutes after birth - whether the child is fit enough or needs any additional medical assistance or emergency procedures).

The Apgar score: namely Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance and Respiration was developed by an anesthesiologist (a specialist who gives anesthesia to patients requiring surgical procedures whether minor or major). Virginia Apgar is now used in almost every hospital worldwide. The score rates a baby’s appearance, pulse, responsiveness, muscle activity and breathing with a number between zero and 2. (2 is considered as the strongest reading) The scale has five parameters each carrying 0, 1 & 2 marking according to absence, sluggish or normal ratings respectively. If the total equals 10 points the baby is considered as having a perfect score. If the total ranges between 7 & 10, it usually indicates that the baby is in good shape and doesn’t need more than the routine post-delivery care.

The Apgar score is applied to the baby twice: First at one minute after birth and second at 5 minutes after birth. Very rarely the test is applied for the third time at 10 minutes if there are serious problems encountered during the first ten minutes.

Five factors are used to evaluate the baby’s condition and each factor is given three scores namely 0, 1, & 2depending on whether the activity is nil, sluggish or fully present.

The details of the scoring are as under:

  • Activity (Muscle tone) 0=there is no movement and the tone in the muscles is floppy. 1= both the arms and legs are flexed with very little movement. 2 = the movements are active and spontaneous.
  • Pulse: (Heart rate) 0= the heart rate is found missing and hence no pulse is felt.1=the pulse is below 100 beats per minute. 2= the heart rate is normal and the pulse is above 100 beats per minute.
  • Grimace: (Responsiveness to external stimuli) 0= the baby doesn’t respond when externally stimulated. 1= the baby may show a mild grimace when stimulated and only the facial movements are present. 2 = the baby pulls away from the source of stimulation and starts coughing or sneezing
  • Appearance: (Condition of the skin) 0 = the skin on the entire body looks Bluish-gray or even pale. 1 =the skin has normal color. However the hands and feet look bluish 2= the skin all over the body looks normal and both the hands and feet look pinkish
  • Respiration: (Breathing) 0 = the baby doesn’t show any evidence of breathing with no effort to take breath. 1= There is some evidence of breathing. However it is slow and irregular. 2 = Normal rate of breathing with evidence of efforts to breath regularly.

A score of 10 points gives the baby a clean condition with excellent health at birth. A baby who scores between 7 and 10 at one minute is generally considered as in good health without the need for any medical or emergency procedures. Any score less than 7 needs a thorough evaluation and immediate action for resuscitative measures. However, a second attempt at the score is made at 5 minutes to judge the need for emergency procedures.

It is very important for mothers especially if the new arrival is the first child, to keep their baby’s Apgar score in perspective. Even if the score is below 7 at one minute there is no need  for any undue anxiety because the condition generally improves at 5 minutes unless there is gross bluish coloration and difficulty in breathing which warrant immediate action.

It is also important for every mother to know how her baby looks and what features the baby will present with, as soon as she comes out to the external world and has successfully passed the tests in the Apgar score.

Baby weight: A full term newborn baby with a normal Apgar score weighs on an average 7 lb 11oz (3.5 kg) and measures 20 in (51 cm) in length and is well prepared for survival.


Body structure of the baby: Several aspects of the appearance in a newborn such as the shape of the skull are a result of the transition from the uterus to the outside world which differs from those in a fetus or an older child. Such differences are normal and disappear relatively quickly. Other structures such as the long bones are not yet fully developed. The new born is equipped with primitive reflexes such as the grasp reflex which are very important for survival but disappear as the age advances.

The umbilical cord: in the newly arrived baby is of utmost importance which, before birth was responsible for the nutrition via the placenta. Immediately after birth the baby has to be separated from the mother by cutting the cord between two clamps about 2 to 3 inches still attached to the baby’s abdomen. The stump needs to be cleaned with a strong antiseptic to prevent infections. The cord cut at delivery shrinks and falls off within 10 days to form the navel. In some babies the navel protrudes like a soft grape. If it persists it could mean that the baby has ventral hernia which can be corrected later through surgical approach.

The baby skull may look oddly shaped for a few days after birth. The bones of the skull are not fully united at their edges but leave a small opening in the front called anterior fontanel and in the back of the skull called the posterior fontanel. These openings close fully in about 6 months’ time and during this period the mother should handle the child very carefully and avoid any injury to the delicate and unprotected openings in the skull.

The jawat birth is strong with fully formed teeth which erupt according to a set pattern of time.

The Eye in a newborn presents with puffy eyelids and at this time the vision is poor even if the eyes are wide open.

The Lungs in a newborn fill with air at the first breath the baby takes. This leads to expansion of the lungs which become fully functional.

The heart at birth undergoes many structural changes to enable the blood to circulate through the lungs where purification and gaseous exchange take place.

The liver in the newborn is large in proportion to the body, since the liver is a major site for formation of blood cells in the fetus.

The pelvis at birth is made mostly of cartilage (a connective tissue) which turns into strong bone during childhood.

The thymus gland in a newborn which forms part of the immune system is large at birth when the immune system is maturing rapidly.

The hands at birth are often clenched and the skin is wrinkled. The tips of the baby’s nails often flake off on their own and hence don’t need cutting.


The feet in a newborn are delicate with the bones mostly made of cartilage and often twisted mostly because of their position in the uterus.

The long bones of the legs in a newborn are strong and hard only at the shafts leaving the ends with soft cartilaginous tissue.

The skin in a newborn is covered with vernix, a greasy substance meant to protect the fetus while in the uterus.

Lips: In some newborn babies one can notice blisters or small white bumps on the lips which are often due to vigorous sucking. These are known as sucking blisters and there is no need to worry because they disappear as the baby learns the art of sucking in due course.

The genitals in both sexes of a newborn appear large in relation to the rest of the body. However, they assume normal size and shape as the baby grows.

Every mother should be aware of these features in her new born baby so that she can differentiate normal from abnormal features in her just born baby.


*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.