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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Troubleshooting Your Newborn

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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Troubleshooting Your Newborn

Jan 30, 2017

Newborns don’t come with a detailed instruction manual, which can leave parents terrified when their baby’s body does bizarre things. On this episode of Debunking Old Wives’ Tales, we cover five of the normal, yet strange, symptoms that your new bundle of joy may be experiencing. From excessive crying to spontaneous eye goop to all the alarming things that can happen with a belly button, pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner has the answers.

Episode Transcript

Dr. Gellner: "Top Five Old Wives' Tales About your Newborns," or, "How to Troubleshoot your Newborn," on today's "Scope." I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Remember that one thing that one person told you that one time about what you should or shouldn't do when raising your kids? Find out if it's true or not. This is "Debunking Old Wives' Tales" with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: Newborns don't come with instruction manuals, so parents often worry when things really are normal. For example, "Excessive crying means something is seriously wrong." Not necessarily. Newborns cry up to two hours a day, sometimes it's because they're hungry, babies have a "nah" cry for this. Sometimes it's because they're wet or their diaper is too tight, or they're stimulated, and babies have a "wah" cry for this. I know, it's pretty cool. I learned that from my lactation consultant.

Or it could be colic, and your pediatrician can help you determine if this is why your baby cries. As the mom of a former colicky baby, I say, "Good luck and good news," it does go away by itself in three to four months. It's making it through the colic period that's tough.

Another concern for parents of girls is that some baby girls have vaginal bleeding. No, your daughter's not going through puberty already. It's actually due to mom's hormones coming out of her system. Little girls get white discharge during the latter part of the first week of life and sometimes it turns blood-tinged. Normally, this goes away in a few days and unless your daughter starts having pubic hair before age eight, you're fine.

Then there's periodic breathing, which freaks a lot of parents out. Babies have this funny way of breathing where they'll sometimes hold their breath and then they'll breathe really fast, and then normal again, and it might seem like an eternity that they're holding their breath, but it's really only seconds. This happens because the part of the brain that controls breathing hasn't fully developed yet. Now, if your baby stops breathing for more than 20 seconds and turns blue, that's not periodic breathing, that's a trip to the ER.

Then there's their bellybutton That scares parents most of all, it seems. Everyone thinks that the yellow goop is an infection, but it's not. It's the remnants of something called Wharton's jelly, which is what makes up the umbilical cord. True infections are very rare. Bleeding is common too. Remember, that's where all the blood vessels were that connected baby to mom. The blood finishes coming out until the cord completely seals itself. If you have any questions about your baby's navel, pediatricians are really good at evaluating cute baby bellies.

Finally, "Yellow drainage from one or both eyes is a serious infection or pink eye." Probably not. It's most likely an infected tear duct. Your baby probably has one eye that waters a lot too. The tear ducts can take awhile to open, so it's easy to get them infected. Antibiotic drops will help with the goopiness, but it will come back until the tear duct itself opens, usually by a year old. Bottom line is, if you have any concerns about your newborn, don't hesitate to ask your pediatrician. Babies are what we do best.

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