What to do for the baby
What to do
1. K eep the baby warm. The best way to warm him is against his
mother’s skin. Place the naked baby, with a hat and a diaper,
inside the mother’s clothing, against her skin and between
her breasts. Keep this skin-to-skin contact day and night. The
mother will have to change the baby’s position to breastfeed.
If the mother needs to bathe, put the baby next to another
person’s skin until the mother is done.
2. Give breast milk. Breast is best for all babies, but it is even more important if
the baby is very small. Breast milk is easiest for the baby to digest,
it gives the best nourishment, and it protects the baby from
illnesses. A small baby may not be able to eat much. Keeping
him close to the mother’s body will help him to breastfeed
often. In this way, he will get enough to eat.
If the baby is not able to breastfeed, the mother should
remove milk from her breasts by hand (see page 285). The
mother should feed the baby the breast milk with a very clean
cup or spoon until he is strong enough to breastfeed. Give the baby as much
breast milk as he will take and as often as he will take it. He must eat to grow.
3. Visit the baby every day for the first few weeks, to check for warning signs. Be
sure the mother knows the signs of jaundice (see page 279), breathing
problems (see page 241), and other signs of infection (see page 277). If the
baby develops any warning signs, get medical help.
Causes of small babies
Babies come in all sizes — that is normal. But small babies are much more likely to
have problems than bigger babies.
And the size of a baby is not just a matter of chance. Mothers who get enough
food and care in pregnancy usually have bigger babies. Mothers who did not get
enough food and care usually have smaller babies.
Small babies are often born to:
• mothers who did not get enough to eat in pregnancy.
• mothers who had to do very hard work during pregnancy.
• mothers who did not get good medical care in pregnancy.
• mothers who smoke cigarettes.
• mothers who were exposed to pesticides or
toxic chemicals in pregnancy.
• mothers who have had many babies before.
Note: A small baby does not make an easier birth.
And small babies have many more health problems. For a healthy
birth and a healthy baby, women must eat enough.
A Book for Midwives (2010)