As anyone who works in a pharmacy will know, one of the most common customers is the new mum who is worried about her baby.
Some will be slightly concerned, others downright anxious, others beginning to panic.
So here are three of the most common health issues faced by newborns, compiled by the Chair of the International Fertility Centre Dr Rita Bakshi – and how pharmacists and pharmacy assistants can help new mums deal with them.
- Swollen belly
A bloated belly is normal for a newborn baby and is usually just a result of gas or constipation. But the if the belly seems abnormally swollen, especially during feeding, it could be a symptom of a more serious gastrointestinal issue. In this case, pharmacy staff should recommend the new mum takes her baby to her GP.
In the case of normal bloating after feeding, mothers should burp their babies by laying them across their laps. A warm bath can help, too.
Although the causes of colic are the subject of some debate, the result is straightforward – continuous and uncontrollable crying for at least two to three hours, and often longer, particularly in the evenings.
New mothers can try a range of ‘calming’ techniques, such as soothing baby with a gentle massage, rocking baby in a swing, wrapping baby in a blanket or cloth, or taking baby out for a short walk.
- Blue skin
This is something that can cause many a new mum to panic. Apart from on the hands and feet, blueness is sometimes noticed around the baby’s mouth and lips. Although this can look worrying, it’s usually a result of poor circulation, which is normal in a newborn baby, whose blood-circulation system takes time to develop.
However, if the baby’s skin doesn’t return to its normal colour as the surrounding temperature increases, it could herald something more serious – poor circulation can eventually lead to apnoea and other cardiovascular issues.
To be on the safe side, mums should raise baby’s knees to touch the chest area and hold them firmly for a few seconds. If this doesn’t resolve the problem and it persists, they should see their GP, who may recommend X-rays and other tests.