Your baby: Week 1
What to expect from your baby's first week.
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Congratulations, baby is 1 week old!

What is baby up to?

How baby is growing:

Read: Red and wrinkled: what your newborn will look like

Read: Newborn health niggles: what's normal, what not

Read: Skin savvy: your newborn's skin, from rashes, birthmarks and pimples to cradle cap and eczema?

  • Weight: Don't be alarmed if your newborn loses weight after birth. Newborns often lose around 200 to 300g in the first 5 days after the birth. This is normal and your newborn should regain it within about two weeks.
  • Length: The average length of a full-term newborn is about 50cm. In the first month your baby will grow between 2.5 and 4cm.
  • Head circumference: Average head circumference at birth is about 34cm. By the end of the first month, your baby's head will grow to about 37cm. Your newborn's head will grow the most in the first 4 months than any other time during your child's life because of rapid brain growth.
  • Head shape: Babies who are born vaginally often have an irregular head shape, but don't worry, your baby's head will gradually return to its normal shape.
  • Yellow skin: You may notice some yellowing of the skin during the first couple of weeks after birth. This is called jaundice and is more common in breastfed babies than in formula-fed babies. Ask the clinic to check out if the yellowing is serious.
  • Baby pimples: Tiny white spots called milia often appear on a newborn's face and gums during the first week. These go away by themselves in a few weeks and are not harmful. Your baby might even get a few pimples in the first weeks.

Cleaning the umbilical cord

Read: Umbilical cord care

Use swabs or cotton wool dipped in surgical spirits to clean the umbilical cord. Don't be scared that you will hurt your baby, this procedure is painless. Instead of using surgical spirits, you could sprinkle some graze and weeping wound powder (for instance the Herbaforce, Vitaforce or Weleda one) around the umbilical cord – this will dry it out naturally.

The umbilical cord will fall off within the first two weeks. Contact your doctor if there is a discharge or if the surrounding skin becomes red and inflamed. 

Taking care of mom

Read: Healing after birth

Read: Your post-birth body: what to expect, from bleeding and breasts to pains and sadness 

After-birth pains

Just when you thought the pain of childbirth was over, along come these pelvic cramps. They are caused by the hormone oxytocin that is released during breastfeeding and causes the uterus to contract and to return to its pre-pregnant state. The discomfort or pain caused by the contractions is called after-birth pains.

These pains are quite normal and there is no need for concern. In some instances, the increase in the number of births a woman experiences appears to be linked to more severe or stronger pain with each pregnancy. Try breathing through the discomfort (big deep slow breaths in, and longer out breaths).

Watery boobs

Read: Breastfeeding basics

Read: Baby's first poo

For the first few days after birth, your breasts will secrete watery, yellow fluid known as colostrum. Colostrum contains antibodies and has all the proteins, vitamins and minerals your newborn needs. It also acts as a gentle laxative, helping to clear out the sticky dark brown-black meconium from your baby's intestines.

You've probably heard people say that breastmilk "comes in on the third day". Expect your breasts to get a lot bigger when this happens, and maybe even feel a bit hard and uncomfortable. You may also feel a bit weepy.

Can I take painkillers if I'm breastfeeding?

There are many reasons why you may need to take painkillers while you are breastfeeding, from pain from a C-section or an episiotomy to tender breasts and even stress-induced headaches. Since anything you take goes into your breastmilk, be aware of what is safe and what is not. Generally, paracetamol is safest. Always speak to your doctor before taking any medication. 

Go back to the complete list of Baby week-by-week updates.

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