7.4  Keeping the baby warm

Newborn babies cool down or heat up much quicker than older children or adults because they cannot regulate their body temperature as easily. They are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia, which means excessive cooling of the baby, so the body temperature falls below 35.5oC measured in the baby’s armpit (or use a rectal thermometer). If this low temperature continues even for a short time, it will cause the baby’s body systems to stop functioning properly and this is life-threatening. Hypothermia is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in a newborn baby, particularly pre-term babies (born before 36 weeks of gestation) and those with low birth weight (below 2,500 gm). Study Session 8 will teach you all about the problems and management of these early or tiny babies.

Hypothermia is usually caused more by the mother’s lack of knowledge rather than lack of covers and clothes to keep the baby warm. So make sure you explain to the mother the importance of keeping the baby warm all the time to ensure that a normal body temperature of above 36.5°C and below 37.5°C can be maintained.

7.3.3  Reducing the HIV risk from breastfeeding

7.4.1  How to take the newborn’s temperature