Forget what you've seen in the movies and on TV; most of the newborn babies you see on the screen are a few weeks old, plump and gorgeous. In reality babies look their least lovely in the moments after their birth.
Newborn babies can look strangely wizened and wrinkled with shrivelled limbs, which have of course been cramped up for several months and need time to get accustomed to freedom.
She or he will be wet from amniotic fluid, which is colourless, but she may well also be covered in blood picked up from your episiotomy or tear as she passed through the lower end of your birth canal.
Caesarean babies will be covered in your blood but don't panic, it's not hers. There may also be a bit of vernix, especially in the folds of her skin. This greasy, white substance protects and lubricates your baby's skin inside the womb from about 19 weeks.
Usually babies born before their due date will have more vernix, whereas babies born a little late will have less and will have drier skin.
Your baby may have patches of fine downy hair, also known as lanugo, which covered her inside the womb. This will be more noticeable on dark haired babies and is usually seen more on the shoulders, back and sometimes ears and forehead.
This hair rubs off in a few days and it does not signify that she will be a particularly hairy person.
The moment your baby enters the world she may be a little purple as she has yet to breathe properly. Once those first all-important breaths are taken her colour will change quickly to red.
If your baby is born vaginally, you may be a little alarmed by the shape of her head. This may seem large in proportion with the rest of her body (it will be a quarter of her overall length) and it may be a slightly strange shape as it has been squeezed during her passage through the birth canal.
If ventouse (vacuum extraction) was used during the birth the baby is likely to have a pointed head, others are born with a flat shaped head or even what looks like a lop-sided one, but all these will settle into a regular shape within about two weeks.
Newborn babies also often squint during the first 12 weeks but as their vision develops this should disappear.
The pressure of the birth may also make your baby's eyelids puffy or marked with red patches - again this will soon settle.
While some babies are born with lots of hair, others are born bald; the colour and quantity of hair has no bearing at all on future hair growth and colour.
Some babies have tiny white spots on the face when they are born, known as milia, which is caused by blocked oil glands, which should fade after a few days.
Meanwhile, the umbilical cord stump can also look a little strange as it will have been clamped after the birth, but in about a week the 2-3cm stump will shrivel up, turn black and drop off, leaving behind your baby’s tummy button.
A pregnant woman's hormones can also have an effect on a newborn baby in that their genitals may seem large in relation to the rest of their body or can make the breast of both girl and boy babies appear swollen.
Occasionally a baby’s nipples may discharge a little milk, which again is due to the mother’s hormones. A baby girl may also have a slight vaginal discharge; all of these features will settle within a week or two.
You’ll be surprised how, in just a few days, your baby will fatten up, smooth out and look very different. In fact, she’ll be picture perfect!