When it comes to meeting your newborn for the first time, many parents agree, it is a moment that will remain with them forever. A tender, soul-stirring moment; the birth of new life cradled in your arms is undeniably beautiful. But it’s also, well… weird.
Because, err, newborns look kind of funny. Please don’t kill us.
For crying out loud, nobody ever tells you the baby will come out with a cone-shaped skull initially! And the gruesome looking white, wax-like tint of their skin, which eerily resembles the White Walkers from Game of Thrones? Not to mention all the blood and the gore…Not really the universal definition of ‘cute’.
According to Denver-based birth photographer Monet Moutrie, of Monet Nicole, who has happened to capture a staggering 100 deliveries through her beautiful lens, “Despite what we regularly see on Facebook posts and baby announcements, newborns don’t come out of the womb wrapped in tulle or with perfectly air-brushed skin.”
Fresh from the oven, newborns don’t exactly meet our expectations of a Hallmark greeting card. Your baby’s journey through the birth canal will initially render them an appearance quite different from what you would have had in mind. But don’t let that surprise you.
Your Baby’s Eyes
Childbirth puts pressure on your newborn’s face, which can temporarily cause their eyelids to appear swollen or puffy.
Even their legs might emerge bent or bowed due to the cramped living quarters of the womb. Don’t panic; the curves straighten out eventually.
Your Baby’s Skull
Pressure from the tight and narrow birth canal could lead to the baby’s skull bones overlapping, producing a cone-shaped, elongated skull upon birth.
This is especially the case if you’ve experienced a prolonged labor or vacuum assisted birth. Expect a rounded skull after a few days though.
You will also observe two soft, tender areas in the top region of your newborn’s head, where the skull bones are yet to grow together. These spots are referred to as ‘fontanels’ and exist to accommodate the baby’s growing brain. Don’t be alarmed for they are safe to brush and usually fuse under two years.
Your Baby’s Umbilical Cord
The stump or base of your baby’s umbilical cord is generally a yellowish/ greenish hue upon birth. In the process of drying out (eventually, falling off two weeks post birth), the base will turn to brownish-black.
During that period, it is important to ensure the remnant is dry and clean by exposing it to air and sticking to sponge baths while that region heals.
Your Baby’s Skin
Upon birth, you may discern tiny white bumps referred to as ‘milia,’ on your baby’s face. They look like white pimples. No, your baby isn’t going through some form of accelerated, bizarre puberty. These spots are harmless and spontaneously disappear after a few weeks.
Your newborn’s top layer of skin will also proceed to flake shortly after the birth hence you will notice peeling, dry skin during those first few weeks.
Your Baby’s Birth Marks
There may be pink or reddish patches on the eyelids, at the back of the neck or on the forehead of your newborn. They’re called ‘angel kisses’ (aw) and typically appear brighter when your little one cries. These marks usually disappear within the next few months. In some cases, they may fade over time or simply persist.
According to Moutrie, who has photographed babies from the very moment of birth, “The transition from womb to the world is beautiful and marked with vernix, blood, and wrinkles.” And she should know considering the stunning pictures she has captured of how newborns really appear.
Moutrie adds, “I love doing birth photography because I get to capture how babies look the moment they come into the world…and demonstrate how quickly they change. It’s astounding to see how different they look in an hour, let alone a week!”
We couldn’t agree more.