Before I had my own kids, I enjoyed watching other people bring children into this world so I would (not infrequently) watch “A Baby Story” on TLC. I now wonder why I watched it. But it gives me an opportunity to paint (or should I say blog) the picture I saw over and over while watching births on that show.
Very close to what is expected to be the final push from mama - the doctor most often just entered the room at this point - the nurse places a blanket or towel on top of mama’s belly. Once the baby is born, the baby is then laid on top of that towel. Mom may have a chance to touch the baby’s head or shoulder. Nurses then come in from each side of mom and began to cover baby with warm towels and vigorously rub all that “stuff” off baby’s body. Very shortly after that, the brand new baby is whisked away to be weighed, washed, have hepatitis B and Vitamin K shots administered and ointment placed in her eyes. The sweet baby is then swaddled and placed in the waiting mom’s arms.
The above scenario doesn’t occur on every single episode of “A Birth Story.” Just most of them. And this is the version I have most often seen on fictional TV as well. And it’s not just TV. I saw the same thing when I was completing my rotation in labor and delivery while I was in nursing school.
I recently posted my oldest daughter’s birth story and it got me to thinking even more about the moments right after birth. My story is a little different than the one above:
My midwife had been with me, for the entire 80 minutes, while I pushed. She did occasionally leave the room to check other patients but she was there nearly the entire time, encouraging me through the exhausting process. Towards the very end, when the midwife expected me to be near my very last push, she told the nurse to take off the fetal heart monitor and contraction monitor. The nurse looked at her in question at this but the midwife nodded for her to do it and the nurse proceeded to hold the fetal heart monitor by hand against my sore belly. I was so relieved to be freed from the straps because I really didn’t want those things on when my baby was born.
I put absolutely everything I could into that final push – using every ounce of effort I had left in me. And finally, finally, my sweetness was born. She was immediately laid on my belly and warm receiving blankets were gently placed on her back. She held her head up high and looked me in the eye. I could tell she was a bit tired too but she began to, ever so slightly, wiggle her little body up to my chest. The nurse was able to complete the APGAR checks right on my belly. Although we had grandparents anxiously awaiting to meet our new arrival, we didn’t have any visitors back to our room for about two hours. It was wonderful to have this special time with our brand new family. My plan was to have two full hours of immediate skin to skin time with my baby right after birth. Unfortunately, I had some complications and this time was shortened to about an hour and a half so I could get some much needed medical care. While the midwife took care of my needs my baby was weighed, had those adorable little footprints completed and swaddled. She was then placed in her daddy's anxiously awaiting arms.
Something I am passionate about is letting women know that have choices – they can make their own informed decisions about these things. You can choose what you want in the moments right after birth. Just as I wrote about Labor Choices; you do have a choice and you can vary it depending on what may work best for you. I would like to add the disclaimer that this is for uncomplicated labor and delivery for a healthy mom and baby. The health needs of mom and baby are always a priority. And we have to be able to trust our health care providers to make those decisions. However, the majority of the time there is absolutely no reason why a baby has to be washed, weighed and measured in the first 10 minutes of life.Your baby never has to receive eye ointments and shots if you decide against those things. If you are giving birth in a hospital there are some policies they follow such as completing the APGAR checks. Also, if you simply want your baby to be cleaned right away - that is your choice too - and certainly no judgment here for that!
The point is, though, the birth plan goes beyond the labor and delivery to the moments right after birth. You can add this to your birth plan if you wish to do so because it is simply your choice. And I cherish those moments right after birth more than I could ever explain in words.
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