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Baby Care – Common Myths During Newborn Period

Arrival of a new baby in family brings lots of joy and happiness. Friend, relatives and neighbors pour in with greetings and well wishes. Along with greetings, come lots of advise regarding baby care. At the end of the day mother finds herself confused and bewildered.

These advise are largely based on traditional believes, carried through generations. Some believes and practices have good effect, but others may have rather adverse effect on baby’s health. One should listen to the advise offered but should clarify from pediatrician before applying them.

Myth-Baby should not be fed for first few hours after birth

It is believed that baby doesn’t require anything for few hours after birth. Sometimes its Bua who has to perform initial ceremony, so feeding is delayed till she arrives. At times, feeding is delayed till the sun sets.

Fact – baby should be fed as early as possible. It could be started in within labor room itself. One should not worry about outflow of milk in initial stage, because good milk flow starts only after baby suckles the breast. Delayed initiation of feeding could lead to decreased milk flow. Lack of milk to baby may lead to fall in baby’s blood sugar. Delayed feeding also hampers production of vitamin-k which may cause increased bleeding tendency in baby.

Myth-Baby should be given honey, jaggery or butter at birth

Mostly given by elder person at home, believing that baby would acquire good qualities and virtues from that adult.

Fact – it’s a harmful practice. It delays initiation of breast feeding .These food stuffs may not be hygienic, leading to infection to the baby.

Myth- After birth initial milk of mother should be discarded

Widely prevalent mis believe that initial milk is dirty and is harmful so should not be fed to the baby.

Fact – Initial yellowish , watery milk called ‘colostrum’ is very nutritious and gives infant adequate calories and nutritional substances during early hours of birth. It also contains lots of ‘ antibodies’ which built infants resistance and helps him fighting against diseases. So initial milk should always be given to the infant.

Myth-Mother and infant should not be allowed to go out for first 40 days

Mother and infant are kept indoors for first 40 days believing that they might catch cold and fall sick if exposed to outer environment.

Fact – the practice of keeping mother and infant in a closed, ill illuminated room , which is deprived of fresh air and sun rays is harmful because it increases the chances of infection. There is no harm in keeping indoor but room should be clean, well illuminated and properly ventilated. A normal child has the capability to fight infections and to adjust to the environmental changes. So there is no harm in taking outdoors. If infant is not sick, there is no harm in welcoming visitors but be careful lest some of visitor may be suffering from any communicable disease.

Myth-Baby should be supplemented with gripe water and Janam ghutti

Janam ghutti and gripe water is supposed to be good for hajma [digestion] and the liver of the baby. They are also believed to help during teething.

Fact – these substances should not be used . Their contents are not standardized. Most of them contain sedatives like alcohol, morphine etc which may be harmful. They can cause infections and loose motions too.

Myth-Application of kajal or surma is good for baby’s eyes

Kajal use is very common and widespread. Kajal is supposed to make eyes beautiful and big. It is also believed that kajal improves eye sight.

Fact – kajal and surma should not be used. They have no beneficial effect on the contrary they can cause infection or allergy in eyes. Surma contains lead ,which not only harms eyes, but gets absorbed through blood and affects other organs too.

Myth-Sneezing means cold

Fact – Mild coughing and sneezing in newborn period are not signs of cold or sickness , they rather are signs of good health. They sneeze or cough to clear there nose and respiratory passage of secretion.

Myth-lactating mother should not be given ‘cold’ and ‘heavy’ foodstuffs

It is believed that if mother eats should not be given ‘thandi’ [cold] things like ice-cream, rice, curd etc. rajma, gram, chhole, kadhi taken by mother are also believed to cause pain in baby’s stomach.

Fact – mothers milk quality remains relatively stable irrespective of kind of food taken by mother. There is no truth in belief that ice-cream, rice or curd will cause cold or pneumonia in child. Likewise, so called heavy foodstuffs like rajma, gram or chhole have no adverse effect on baby’s health. What is important is to give well balanced nutritious diet to the mother with ample amount of fluids.

Myth- loose motions and fever are normal during teething

Fact – loose motions and fever have no relation to the teething process. During teething infant may have discomfort and irritation in gums, to relieve that he has a increased tendency to put various things in mouth. These articles, if not clean, may carry germs and would lead to infection of throat or abdomen. So medical advises should be taken for any episode of loose motion or fever.

Myth-Belly button is protruded because doctor pulled the cord

A large no of babies have their umbilicus protruded during early infancy. Most people believe its because doctors pulled the cord during delivery.

Fact – is that it is not due to wrong cutting or pulling of the cord. Mostly it is genetically determined. Do not try to keep it compressed by applying tape or coin over it. In about 20% of babies it is due to a defect or weakness in the wall of abdomen called umbilical hernia. Nothing is to be done and this protrusion usually disappears by the age of one year.

Myth-Baby’s warm head means fever

Fact – Average temperature of a newborn baby is 98.2 F but it varies between 97.6 and 99.5. Usually head appears warmer than rest of the body. But if baby is otherwise well and temperature is with in normal range one should not worry.

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