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If you are a new mom, the first day with your baby can be exciting and confusing all at once. High on emotions, you may find yourself laughing and crying simultaneously. It is normal to find yourself counting your baby’s every breath and get alarmed by the tiniest of irregularities. However, you need to understand that the outside environment is new for your baby. He/she is trying to cope with it after spending nine months in your warm and cosy womb.

  1. What happens when a baby takes its first breath?
  2. Is your baby breathing too fast?
  3. What is Transient Tachypnea and how long does it last in the newborn?
  4. Tips For Parents
  5. Doctors for Newborn baby's breathing pattern in the first 24 hours

While in the womb, a foetus gets all of its oxygen and nutrients through the placenta. Blood in the placenta also does the job of carrying away carbon dioxide and other waste. Babies actually learn to breathe after birth. Most babies take their first breath through the nose within 10 seconds of delivery - their first breath may sound like a gasp. This is because, at birth, their tiny lungs are filled with fluid. As they take their first breath, newborns expel out any residual fluid in their airways, kickstarting their respiratory system.

It is normal for newborns to sneeze, squeak or snort as inhaling is new to their lungs and nose. Moreover, babies can’t yet blow their noses and there may be some mucus stuck inside. As this mucus travels down their throat, you will be able to feel it as a rattling sound in their chest. Most of the times it is nothing to worry about. Hiccups, too, are completely normal and they don’t cause any discomfort to babies.

(Read more: First cry of a baby)

Adults typically draw 12-20 breaths a minute. A newborn takes 30-60 breaths per minute. This can slow down to 20 times per minute while they sleep. Newborns can also take rapid breaths and then pause for up to 10 seconds at a time. This is known as periodic breathing and is pretty common. This may happen while your baby is sleeping or awake. If you are a first-time parent, try to stay calm - most of the irregularities resolve themselves within a few months.

Transient tachypnea is a common breathing problem that affects some newborns - usually preterm, though it may also occur in full-term babies. It is characterised by abnormally fast breathing - faster than 40 to 60 breaths per minute. 

Tachypnea occurs when a newborn is not able to absorb all the fluid in their lungs before birth. To get the required amount of oxygen such babies have to breath harder and faster. 

Since fluid absorption from lungs is partly controlled by the hormonal changes that occur in your body during labour, babies delivered by C-section are much more likely to have this condition. Such babies have to work after birth to reabsorb the lung fluid after birth. Babies of asthmatic and diabetic mothers are also at a higher risk of developing this condition.

(Read more: Gestational diabetes)

Observe your child’s typical breathing patterns. Consult a doctor if you notice anything suspicious that may indicate a serious respiratory problem. Seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your baby doesn’t breathe for 20 seconds or more
  • His lips, tongue, fingernails and toenails turn blue
  • He grunts at the end of each breath
  • He flares nostrils while breathing
  • He pulls in muscles on the neck, around collarbones, or ribs
  • He has difficulty feeding in addition to breathing issues
  • He is lethargic, has a fever and breathing issues
  • He wheezes; wheezing (taking tiny breaths accompanied by a whistling sound) can be a sign of blockage of the lower airway
  • He breathes fast; fast breathing is a sign of pneumonia and other infections
  • He produces a constant high pitched sound indicating an airway blockage
  • He has a deep or barking cough
Dr. Yeeshu Singh Sudan

Dr. Yeeshu Singh Sudan


Dr. Veena Raghunathan

Dr. Veena Raghunathan


Dr. Sunit Chandra Singhi

Dr. Sunit Chandra Singhi


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