You have just gone through (fill in the blank) hours of labor. You see your baby for the first time and you count those fingers, count those toes, hear the Apgar score, and hold her for the first time. They swaddle her up quickly, so tight, so cuddled, and then you hold her again. Maybe it's at her first diaper change or maybe you can see it on her cheek right off. A birthmark. Big, small, dark, faint, reddish, or brown.
You know your kiddo is perfect, no matter what marks she may have. But some birthmarks can be indicators of more serious conditions. How do you know? What do you do?
Many birthmarks are just fine, no cause for alarm. There are many different kinds: port-wine stains, Mongolian spots, hemangiomas, cafe au lait spots, stork bites. Some will fade, some may not. Some are harmless, others -- depending on where they are located or how large they are -- could interfere with certain things. Still others could be a sign of serious neurological conditions. And still others, again, if they're large and perhaps on the face, could become an issue as she grows older and self-conscious about them.
So, it's one more thing to be worried about, right? Number 544 of New Parent Worries. The first thing to do is talk about the birthmarks with your doctor. A lot of times, you will just wait and see how the mark grows with your baby. They may recommend you see a pediatric dermatologist at some point, but many times, unless it's interfering with eyesight or what have you, you will be waiting and watching.
Also, it's the one area where you will need to be uber-sure to slather on the sunscreen -- even in the winter, even if it's covered by clothing. Often, that skin area is much more sensitive to the sun's rays. The last thing? You already are snapping pics of the little one all of the time -- be sure to take some of that mark. Every month, take a picture with, say, a penny or a ruler next to it, so you can see if it's growing. It's tough to eyeball any changes since you see it every day.
My daughter was born with a large birthmark. It's a very dark cafe au lait spot. About two inches long and one inch wide on the inside-back of her thigh. As the nurses told my husband, it's a good mark to tell if her skirts are ever too short (ba-dum-bum). We have been tracking it for, well, four years now. We've tried to make her feel very comfortable about it. We call it her "special spot," that it makes her even more special ... and so far, she's perfectly fine with it. We might have to have it removed at some point, we just don't know. As with everything concerning that new bundle of joy, you never know what the next year, next stage of Kiddodom will bring.
We were just at her yearly check with her dermatologist, and he told us a story about a girl who had a birthmark like Kiddo's who thought her "special spot" had superpowers -- whenever they were driving in the car and she touched it, the traffic lights would turn green. It made me smile, and Kiddo said, "Mama, I think my special spot has superpowers too!" If we don't have to have it removed, we will continue to do everything so that Kiddo feels like she can't live without it.
Does your baby have a birthmark?
Image via Jessicizer/Flickr