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Blue Hands Warm Heart – The normal colours of a newborn

Birth Preparation

Image by Monet Nicole (@monetnicolebirths)

When I am teaching parents about birth I intentionally include a picture of a baby when they are first born – many people are surprised by their initial colour! I find that in the first day after birth, one of the most common questions I get asked is about the colour of their baby’s hands and feet. We’re tackling these concepts in this blog post, so read on for more!

When your baby is first born they will appear blue, purple or pale – this is normal! Babies in the womb have a smaller amount of oxygen available to them when they are being supplied by the placenta, and they prioritise this oxygen supply to their vital organs. Once they have taken their first few breaths however, they suddenly have a wealth of oxygen and can begin to ‘perfuse’ (send blood to) those less important places, such as to their skin. By the first couple of minutes after birth, your baby’s skin will have transitioned closer to their natural colour. That being said, it can take some time for those circulation changes to complete, and for that increased blood flow to make it all the way to a baby’s extremities. This causes what is called acrocyanosis – blue or purple hands and feet. How long this lasts is different for every baby, but it usually resolves within about 24 hours after birth. In that time, providing they are warm, breathing normally and the rest of their skin colour is normal, there is no reason to be concerned if you notice acrocyanosis on your little one.

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