Hopefully, by the time she wakes you up in the middle of the night because "this is it", she'll have let you know what pain relief options she wants, and your role if you go into hospital is to make sure she gets what she wanted as far as possible. Fight her corner, but be really nice to the staff because it'll be hard for her to give birth if she feels stressed. R e l a x.
Whenever you see a birth in a film, there's a few seconds of screaming and they show the mother a beautiful baby, that everyone instantly loves, and everybody's smiling and the drama is over. Hollywood casting procedures mean that he baby they show is normally about 3 months old. The reality is a little different.
Labour is particularly grueling for a lady. In normal circumstances, she'd find it embarrassing to be inspected and examined by a complete stranger in such a way, but on the day, she'll do whatever she has to to get the baby out. Don't be shocked by whatever lands on the sheet before the baby; it's supposed to be there and is completely normal. The same rules apply to child birth as apply to an out of control stag weekend - whatever happens in the birthing suite stays in the birthing suite.
Nobody really wants to say it, but new born babies are funny looking. They're pink, and covered in a snotty goo called vernix, which is there to lubricate. In order to live in an area the size of a large hand bag, and to subsequently squeeze through an opening the width of a penis, their bones are soft and maleable. My son had his toes pressed up on his shins. A friend's baby was born with the aid of a fondeuse, which is essentially a plunger, making his head cone shaped.
We both went through thoughts of wheelchairs and life long care, which marred the big day until we could have a quiet word with the midwife. Both boys popped back into shape after a few days, and both are normal and healthy.
Hospital staff like to do things and when your baby is born they weigh, they measure, they clean and they inject.
The weighing and measuring is so they can tell if your baby is in any sort of danger zone, not so you can see if your baby is above or below average. In my unmedical opinion, even the danger zone numbers are pretty meaningless. A friend was constantly told her baby was underweight and she should feed him more. But what they hadn't taken account of was that the mother was only 4'10". In general, if the baby seems fine, they are fine.
Next, the cleaning. The reason is purely aesthetic , not medical. The Vernix they want to clean off nourishes the skin, and helps prevent the baby's skin peeling. As we all know peeling skin itches , and so they'll scratch it, often until it scabs, so they scratch it some more, and so on. You can embark on that route, or you can wait a week or so before bathing the baby; it's up to you. You'll want to wipe the poo off though, but even then, cotton wool and water will suffice.
Occasionally they get a lump of vernix in their ears, which blocks them up, so if your baby 'fails' the hearing test, this is often the culprit.
The injection, or tablet, given routinely is Vitamin K. Vitamin K helps blood clot. The wonks have worked out that babies don't have any vitamin K of their own, so they give them an injection to give them adult quantities of vitamin K in their blood. We opted out of vitamin K, as it is most likely unnecessary, or babies would have it by natural selection. Vitamin K is produced by bacteria in the gut. This bacteria will be present in the maternal faeces which junior would have squeezed out of mum on the way out, and then got on his face, so by eight days old, he'll have made enough of his own to have normal adult equivalent levels.
Vitamin K is given as a preventative measure against HDN. If HDN runs in your family, it might be best to take it, otherwise it is pointless and perhaps harmful - Vitamin K is essential, but is carcinogenic, and the neonatal vitamin K supplement has been linked to leukaemia by one study (and one study only, which has never been reproduced, so it's probably not true anyway).
As we'd had an 'easy birth' (easy? that was easy?), the midwife asked us to vacate the bed for the soon-to -be family who were tearing down the A5 as we spoke. My wife had given birth less than 6 hours previously, and we didn't feel entirely confident, but we'd been in the birthing centre just long enough to establish the food was dire and we'd get no sleep there with all that screaming going on (not the baby, the mums). So home we drove, at little more than five miles per hour
We put the bairn in a carry cot next to the bed and tried to go to sleep. At every snuffle he made, we wondered if he was OK. When the snuffles stopped and he fell asleep we became really concerned.
Posted on 2011-02-20 06:31:52