Why do babies, immediately after they are born, seem dead and have a very pale colour ?


Why do babies, immediately after they are born, seem dead and have a very pale colour ?

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Babies don’t breathe while in the uterus. They get oxygen via the mother’s blood, which passes into the baby from the placenta down the umbilical cord. And they get rid of CO2 from cellular respiration the same way. So mom does the breathing for the baby.

When the baby is delivered, its lungs are full of fluid, and within about 10 seconds the baby takes its first breath. Its heart has been pumping for months in utero, but it has never breathed on its own. It takes the baby’s body a day or so to fully adjust to the “new” way of oxygenating its blood, so that’s why they can have a bluish tinge to their skin – they aren’t oxygenating their cells properly. Unless the baby has a congenital heart defect, it goes away pretty quickly.

It would be pretty weird If they came out with a tan after just spending nine months in darkness.

Another reason for baby color is a chemical our body produces called “bilirubin”, it’s just a waste product produced by being alive. Bilirubin has a yellow/orange pale color and high levels of in the skin/blood can make you turn a bit yellow/orange looking.

In utero the baby’s bilirubin is removed by the placenta, once born the baby’s liver needs to turn on and start removing it, but baby livers sometimes take a few days to get strong enough to do so. So it’s common for babies to be pale yellow/orangish for the first days due to bilirubin build up. Too much of this, btw, isn’t a good thing, so in modern medicine a doctor might choose to essentially put a new born under a tanning lamp for a few days to help. (light also breaks down bilirubin so the tanning lamp works tag team with the baby liver until it’s up to speed)