Roll with the waves

The first few months of your baby’s life will bring waves of emotion, many of which will be brand new.  You’ll experience waves of love (bigger than you’ve ever known before), waves of overwhelm, waves of fatigue, waves of protectiveness, and waves of frustration.  Each day will be different, and you will often feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster.  This is all normal.  Totally and completely.  There will be days that you feel blissed out as a new mom, and others where all you want to do is cry.  Just remember that there is no right to feel on any given day, and whatever wave of emotion you’re feeling is authentic, real, and your experience.  This is part of the beauty of your postpartum journey.  It will be colorful and unique.  Yours will look different from your best friend’s or even your partner’s journey.  Couples experience new parenthood differently, and each have their own story. 

As baby nurses, part of our job is to support you in your emotional experience as you wade through those first weeks at home.  Know that we know what you are going through, that even if we haven’t had children ourselves, we’ve been by the sides of many moms who are experiencing exactly what you are.  Let us help you on your journey by being transparent with your emotions and letting us know what you need.  If it’s just a good night’s sleep, then let us take care of some of the night feedings.  If you’ve pumped enough milk, we’ll be good to go and you can focus on getting the rest you need.  Sleep is one of the most elements of recovery, from either a vaginal or C-section birth.  Allow yourself to get as many zzzzs as you can!  

If it’s reassurance you need, tell us what you’re feeling anxious about.  It might be that you’re worried the baby isn’t gaining enough weight, or that you won’t know what to do if he’s sick.  As nurses, we are there to assess your baby’s growth and well-being, and we will teach you everything you need to know.  We get it that all of the stuff you learned in prenatal class flew out the window!  Pregnancy brain isn’t expected to hold onto it, and it’s a different ballgame after you have the baby anyway. 

Most importantly, let us help you learn to roll with the waves as they come.  For they will all pass, every one of them in time.  You might feel like the sleepless nights will never end, or that your breasts will always be sore.  Everything changes.  Your baby will grow so fast, and before you know it, 3 am feedings will only be a hazy, distant memory.  Talk to your nurse, let her know how you’re feeling….she will reassure you that “this too shall pass”.   And while you’re riding that wave, remember that you have a great resource right there in your home to help make things easier.  Our nurses are very knowledgeable, about everything from breastfeeding to healthy routines to how to assemble the new swing.  We are there for you and understand how overwhelming those first weeks can be.  Remember to have fun with it all though, because your baby will only be this little once.  Enjoy the newborn phase….it will go by quickly!  

A home birth experience

By Robin Quinn: guest blogger 

Robin grew up in Ojai, California and completed her BSN in Nursing in 2012.  She became involved in nursing because she was very interested in maternity and midwifery.  Families love her natural, holistic approach and ability to support parent-infant bonding throughout the birth and postpartum experience. Robin also speaks Spanish and volunteers as a nurse at a free medical clinic in the Bay Area.     

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being present for the birth of my younger sister, Zoe’s, first baby. She chose to have a home birth with a midwife, in the home we grew up in.  Luckily, her water broke before she went into active labor, so I was granted some hours of travel to get to her before her labor progressed. I jumped in the car with my older sister and nephew, and we embarked on the six hour drive, keeping hopeful her labor did not progress too quickly. We arrived in the middle of the night, and were all fortunate to get some hours of sleep before the big day ahead.  

Zoe began experiencing stronger contractions during the late morning, and I was amazed at the rhythm she found with her increasing contractions.  She began breathing with the pressure and swaying back and forth.  My stepmom, who was a labor and delivery nurse for twelve years, was timing and recording her contractions. We all prepared things around the house as the birthing hour approached. My dad filled the birthing tub and got the room comfortable for her. We connected to her husband on Skype, who was unable to be present due to complicated travel visa issues. He was able to be with us virtually the whole time, though! Once her contractions were about four minutes apart, which happened pretty quickly, we knew it was time to call the midwife.

The midwife arrived just before 2pm- and Zoe was experiencing regular and intense contractions by this time. The midwife was calm and reassuring, confident all was well and that Zoe was doing a great job. She checked the baby’s heart rate and prepared her supplies. Zoe was hesitant to get into the birthing tub initially, as she wanted to keep moving with the contractions and felt it would be too warm. Eventually, she chose to get into the water and found much relief.  She had a demeanor of ultimate relaxation for a moment. Near 4pm, she was completely dilated and her urge to push became overwhelming. Throughout this time, I had supported her in a few different positions, encouraged her with her breathing, and helped keep her hydrated and as comfortable as possible. When the time came for her to deliver the baby, we were all encouraging her; my dad, step-mom, Zoe’s husband, my sister and nephew, and her two midwives. She ended up pushing for about thirty minutes, and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. When the baby’s head crowned, the midwife held the mirror so we could see his head, which was so amazing. He came out into the world gracefully. At 4:18pm, she gave birth to a lovely and healthy boy! 

I will never forget this wonderful day. Especially the overwhelming joy we all felt when he was born, and the look on my sister’s face when he let out his first cry.  I learned so much from this valuable experience: I was reminded to trust nature to take its course, how women’s intuition is very powerful, and how to be present and mindful with a mother’s signals. I am grateful to be involved in such a special part of new families’ lives, and the new mother being my sister made this day extra special.  I look forward to more opportunities to support new families, both in birth and postpartum.

Robin Quinn, RN BSN 


The New Parent Blueprint

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The weeks after a baby’s birth are a formative time for every family, and a newborn’s earliest experiences imprint on the rest of her life.  Having the support of a nurse during these early days can be incredibly beneficial to the family as a whole.  We evolved in community, and many cultures around the world still embrace community as an essential part of our lives.  “It takes a village” to raise a child still applies….just take a trip to Africa and you’ll see how much communities rely on each other.  This is our natural way as humans….but with the evolution of western society, we have lost much of this.  Of course we still have neighbors, but they live in their box and we live in ours.  It is up to each individual unit to raise their own children; having extended family around to help is a plus, but many couples don’t have family close by.  Also, times have changed, and sometimes older generations aren’t up to date on the latest in newborn care.  Or a well meaning relative comes by with the intention of being helpful….but parents end up feeling more exhausted than they did before the visit. 

A baby nurse is an experienced professional, but more than that, a caring, unrelated, non-judgemental expert whose primary goal is to make herself of service to a new parent and baby.  This is why the support of a healthcare professional at home is so beneficial and helps parents in a unique way.  Her expertise is unparalleled, having worked with countless new mothers before…. having held their hands, made them tea while they nursed, and reassured them that the umbilical cord looks completely normal and they are doing a wonderful job of mothering.  This is the essence of having a baby nurse.  Of course nurses are also there to help take care of the baby and let you sleep, which is such a gift….but their nurturing, competent way and the fact that they understand what you are going through during your transition into motherhood is even more profound.  We know how important it is to feel nurtured, supported, and reassured during those early months.  And that is why we do what we do.

Yes, we provide expert care for your baby and will teach you all about how to take care of your little one.  But we are also present for you.  And this is remembered by mothers long after their nurse has graduated to the next family, long after the sleepless nights are over.  It becomes part of her mommy blueprint that began forming the day she found out she was pregnant.  The way she was cared for, and the way her baby was loved and nurtured from the beginning by someone she may never have met if this little person hadn’t come into the world.  We have had many mothers cry on the day their nurse leaves, and thankfully many who remain in touch so that we can continue our relationship. 

Let us not forget fathers!  New dads often need just as much support, if not more, during those early weeks.  A sensitive baby nurse who teaches dad how to position the bottle just right, one how recognizes a bonding moment in action and brings a book for him to read to baby, or a nurse who helps adjust those straps on the Bjorn as dad and baby head out for a walk is one who is enhancing the new daddy blueprint.

We know that our work has a lasting imprint on the lives of our littlest clients.   Because we have loved and nurtured them, yes.  But also because we have cared for and empowered their parents.  The family is energetically connected, and supporting each part strengthens the whole. 

Preterm Labor

1 in 9 babies is born prematurely in the US each year.  Although our rates are decreasing, that’s still a lot!  The US isn’t receiving a great report card in comparison to other industrialized nations~ so what can we do as a country to bring more babies to term and lower the census in neonatal intensive care units? 

  1. Provide better access to health care

  2. Establish more community programs focusing on maternal/infant health

  3. Eliminate elective births by C-section and induction

What can YOU do as a mom to reduce the risk of giving birth prematurely?  Well, there are few things….and you might do everything on this list and still have a preemie.  That’s just the way nature works and not everything is within our control.  But we do know that there are ways to help keep your baby warm and growing in your tummy for as long as possible, and we encourage all our expecting parents to read on:

Regular prenatal appointments

Find a healthcare provider who can see you throughout your pregnancy~ that can be an OB-GYN, midwife, or nurse at a community clinic.  The important thing is to be checked regularly so that they can monitor your blood pressure, baby’s growth, and other aspects of your health. 

H2O

The importance of keeping hydrated should not be underestimated!  Water is vital to our lives, and for the the constant flow of nutrients from the placenta to baby via the umbilical cord.  Your body needs more water than you think during pregnancy~ there is a lot going on in there!  Have a water bottle handy with you throughout the day, and add some lemon if you like for more flavor. 

Eat well

Lots of veggies and fruit!  Calcium and probiotics will also do your body well and help to prevent preterm labor.  Natural yogurt is an exellent source of both!  Vitamin C also works to keep baby in your belly longer, so eat foods like citrus fruits, carrots, and broccoli. 

Take care of teeth

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There is evidence that periodontitis, or inflamation of the gums, can lead to preterm labor.  The exact mechanism of action is unknown, but it may be that harmful bacteria from the mouth migrate to the placenta and cause infection.  To avoid this, brush twice daily with flouride toothpaste, floss, and get regular cleanings.

Exercise

Whether you choose walking on a treadmill or going to prenatal yoga, exercise is good for both you and baby.  If your body is healthy, all organs and systems will be in better working order for supplying nourishment to your fetus.

Talk to your baby

It might sound silly, but communicating with your baby can be influential in helping to strenghten the mother-baby bond and making the baby more apt to remain in the womb longer.  If a baby feels disconnected from mom emotionally, there is less impetus to stay inside, especially if there are other risk factors for premature birth, such as high blood pressure.  Tell the baby what’s going on, especially if there is a health issue.  Let he or she know how important it is to grow inside for as long as possible, and that your womb is a safe haven of protection.

Rest

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Pregnancy is a time to take care of your body and allow it to do it’s amazing job of growing a human.  That takes energy, so conserve it and allow yourself plenty of relaxation time while incubating.  Those errands can often be done by someone else in the family.  Practice delegating: it’s a skill you’ll also need after baby comes! Exercise is good, but too much beelining around and overexerting yourself can be taxing for both you and the baby.  

 

http://www.cdc.gov/features/prematurebirth/

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/11/07/improving-us-preterm-birth-rates/

http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/P0/P00137.pdf

http://birthbliss.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/natural-ways-to-stop-and-prevent-pre-term-labourlabor/  

Holiday Traveling

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Or we can title this one:

How not to be the embarrassed parents with the crying baby on the plane.  You know, the one that cries The. Entire. Flight. 

The holidays are here….which probably means that you’ll be packing up for a trip to see the family or having the family all crowd into your house.   If baby is tiny, it will probably be the latter, but if you’re going to be in the air with your little one this Christmas, here’s some tips to help make the journey easier.

  • Travel lightly.  This is where minimalism becomes really cool.  Other parents will admire you and ask “how do you do it?”  Easy.  Just don’t pack a lot of junk.  You will likely have a washing machine wherever you’re going or a hotel that will wash clothing for you.  You don’t need to take the bouncy seat, the jungle gym, and baby’s entire library.  Use the famous packing rule: lay out what you think you’ll need and then half it. 
  • Have pacifiers at the ready.  Lots of them.  Those things have a way of disappearing….falling under seats, out of diaper bags, etc.  Keep one in your pocket, a few in the diaper bag, and one in your purse.   Sucking on a pacifier will help calm baby, and keep sensitive ears clear during takeoff and landing.             

  • Bring toys and a book to keep your little one engaged.  A stuffed monkey with a teething ring, the giraffe, or a set of plastic keys.  The best is to pop in some toys that are unfamiliar to baby, novelty always helps.  Many babies resist sleeping on airplanes, so be prepared to entertain. 

  • Walk the aisles frequently. Confinement exacerbates crankiness, so get up and stroll.  All the way to the restroom.  Then back up the aisle again.  All while meandering around the somewhat annoyed flight attendant who wants to give you a grumpy look but can’t cause you have a baby and well, they’re supposed to be nice to parents traveling with infants.  Walking serves as a distraction for baby, and can also help put him or her to sleep.
  • Wrap your car seat and stroller in plastic before checking.  You’ve invested a lot in these, and if you don’t cover them, they will get mangled on the journey.  You  don’t want a lot of dirt, snow, ice, etc to get on the fabric.  Unless that car seat is nearing retirement, cover up.

  • Chucks pads.  Whoever thought to use these as diaper changing pads was brilliant~ it was probably a hospital nurse.  Blue chucks are the best travel pads~ can also be used on your diaper changing pad at home, which will save the cover from having to be washed all the time.  You can sneak in diaper changes on the airplane seats easily with these: just lay it out, change, then roll up and dispose.  Absorbent and waterproof.
  • Have baby wipes at the ready.  It doesn’t take long for new parents to realize the versatility of baby wipes.  Not just for changing diapers, but for cleaning hands, mouths, spills, etc.  Make sure to have a pack in your purse and diaper bag while traveling. 

  • Dress baby appropriately.  Is the snowsuit really necessary?  If so, at least pack it instead of wearing it during travel….getting onto a stuffy, crowded airplane dressed like an eskimo can be uncomfortable.  You don’t need to dress for winter until you’re actually at your destination.  And remember to always take off snowsuits, jackets, and blankets before buckling up baby in the carseat. The seats are not as safe with extra bulk, as the padding doesn’t allow baby to be buckled in tightly enough. 

  • Wear your baby.  Bring a carrier or wrap so you can wear baby through the airport, it will be easier and more comfortable.

Morning sickness....ugh

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You’ve sailed through the first few weeks of your pregnancy with flying colors….and then it hits.  Nausea, numerous trips to the toilet, and feeling like you just want to curl up in a hole and fast forward nine months.  And why do they call this thing morning sickness?!  You’re sick all day: morning, afternoon, and night. You’ve tried the crackers and ginger ale, but it hardly helps.  What else can you do to make it through this rough patch and emerge an intact human being?   You know, the kind that carresses their bump and radiates that pregnancy glow….will you ever be THAT preggos girl?  Yes, you will…but in the meantime, here’s some advice to help you survive “morning sickness”. 

Remember that this usually GOES AWAY, yes into the pregnancy archives, by the second trimester.  For some women, it lasts longer, but most will tell you it was literally week 12 when they began to feel human again.  You can do anything for a short time, including being a nauseous pregnant mama.  It will not last forever.

Eat, eat, eat!

You may not feel like it, but eating small amounts throughout the day will actually help your nausea.  This is the time to be birdie!  Crackers, hummus, toast, pretzels….nibble away to give yourself energy but not overtax your tummy.  It’s very sensitive right now and big meals may not jive with it.  But most moms report feeling better with food in their stomachs, so even if it comes up later, keep nibbling.

Ginger

Ginger has excellent anti-nausea properties~ and you can both eat and drink it!  Here are some suggestions:

Dried ginger (you can find in bulk aisle at Whole Foods)

Ginger tea: we like Yogi 

Ginger ale: choose a stronger one with real ginger if possible

Motion sickness bands

Yes, the kind you wear on airplanes and boats….they can work for pregnancy nausea too.  These bands put gentle pressure on acupressure points on the inside of your wrist~ but you get used to them and hardly feel it after awhile. 

Anti-nausea meds

Your doctor may prescribe something for you if the nausea is really severe.  We don’t recommend taking medicine unless it’s a necessity and you’re too sick to eat or drink anything.  In that case, you need to go to the hospital for an IV. 

Try acupuncture

The ancient Chinese practice can offer incredible relief from nausea by calming the nervous system, balancing hormones, and assisting the liver. 

Magnesium

It should be in your prenatal vitamin, but make sure you’re getting enough through your diet as well.  Bring on the spinach and other green leafy veggies!  If you’re really sick, you might want to have your Mg levels checked and consider taking a supplement if they’re low. 

Peppermint

Take it any way you like…..I love Yogi peppermint tea after dinner because it helps me digest.  Peppermint has long been heralded for its tummy soothing properties.  Eat the leaves, drink some tea, or have a bowl of holiday peppermint ice cream.

Massage

Even if it doesn’t help your nausea, it feels amazing and the health benefits are well worth the investment.    Many women report relief from morning sickness through regular massage, though.  Just make sure to find a therapist experienced in prenatal massage.

Bach Flower Remedies

These all natural drops help to calm the nervous system and relieve nausea associated with morning sickness: http://www.bachflower.com/

Yoga

A gentle yoga practice can help your body adjust to pregnancy, and this yoga pose is particularly beneficial for morning sickness: Modified Reclining Hero.  Just be sure to warm up before doing any poses, especially if you aren’t practicing regularly.

http://www.omformom.com/1/post/2011/04/prenatal-yoga-pose-to-relieve-nausea-and-morning-sickness.html

 

Sources:

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/10/06/11-natural-ways-to-relieve-morning-sickness/

Reflux: is it just spit up or something more?

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Gastroesophogeal reflux is common in infants.  It can be a major cause of crying, poor feeding, and sleep problems. 

 

 

There are two types of reflux:

 

 

 

GER: Gastroesophogeal Reflux

 

 

GERD: Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease

 

 

 

Here’s the difference:

 

GER refers to normal spitting up that all babies do.  The stomach contents flow up into the esophogus and out in the form of “spit up”.  Every new parent walks around with it on their shirt, in their hair, and smells it on their sheets as they fall asleep.  It’s everywhere for the first few months of your life with the new bub.  Totally normal.  This kind of reflux is caused by an immature LES (lower esophogeal sphincter) that gradually gets stronger as baby grows. Therefore, the older the baby, the less he should be spitting up.  GER is nothing to be concerned about, and shouldn’t interfere with baby’s overall contentment.  Sure, they may fuss before a burp and then feel ahhh, relief upon getting it out, but all of that is just feeding related and totally normal. 

 

 

GERD, on the other hand, is a more serious form of GER that requires a diagnosis by your pediatrician or specialist.  It is basically GER that lasts too long or becomes more severe than just normal spitting up.  If your kid has it, you might know, but you might not.  You will most likely be pacing around and have moments of wanting to flee the home after trying to calm your fussy baby  for hours.  (remember, there is help for those times….email us for info).  GERD can be extremely uncomfortable for a newbie.  The fluid that regurgitates up through the esophogus is highly acidic and burns.  Here’s what makes it hard to diagnose though: babies with GERD do not always spit up.  The stomach juices may make it all the way up into the throat but then bubble back down again.  Ouch.  This is called silent reflux.  Hence, a crying baby who can’t even give mom and dad a visible sign of what’s wrong.

 

 

 

How can you tell if your baby has GERD?

 

Here are some clues that you might have a refluxy baby on your hands:

 

  • Long periods of crying

 

  • Throwing up a lot

 

  • Persistent cough

 

  • Difficulty eating/ crying with feeding

 

  • Excessive gas

 

 

 

What can you do to manage reflux?

 

 

Feed your baby upright or at an angle

 

 

A bouncy seat or car seat works well for infants not yet able to sit up.  You can also prop up pillows under your arm while holding baby to achieve this angle. Gravity works to keep the fluid down.  Keep baby upright for at least 30 minutes after feeds to assist with digestion.

 

 

Feed baby small amounts

 

There’s nothing worse for reflux than an oversized feeding. Think mini-meals: stick with small, frequent feedings throughout the day.  If that means breastfeeding every 2 hours rather than 3, it’s worth doing. 

 

 

Breastfeed

 

Breastmilk really is best, especially for a baby with reflux.  This is due to the enhanced digestibility of the proteins in human milk vs. cows milk.  The intestinal flora of babies exclusively fed breastmilk is different from that of formula fed babies.  To read more about this: http://drjaygordon.com/pediatricks/startingout/supplement.html

Massage your baby

 

How does it work?  One: it relaxes baby.  Reflux is tied in with the stress response from the sympathetic nervous system, which involves a whole lot of cortisol swimming around.  Massage helps to lower the stress response and coritsol production and thereby reduces reflux.  Two: it stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls respiration and digestion.  The vagus nerve is interconnected with muscles around the esophogeal sphincter and the theory is that when the nerve is stimulated, these muscles contract better and keep stomach contents where they belong. 

 

 

Eliminate offending foods

 

If you’re breastfeeding, your diet may be irritating baby’s gut…. but it’s hard to know until you begin eliminating things.

 

 

 

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What are the most common offenders?

 

  • Dairy

 

  • Wheat

 

  • Soy

 

  • Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probiotics

 

The jury is still out on whether probiotics help improve digestive function, but many hospitals are administering them to premature babies at risk for gastrointestinal infections.  Some studies have shown a positive affect among colicky babies, so it seems like they are worth a try.

 

 

 

Aloe Vera juice

 

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Aloe vera works by coating and soothing the digestive tract.  It’s often recommend to adults with reflux, and can similarly benefit infants in smaller doses.  Be sure to check with your primary care provider or naturopath before administering any medicine or supplements. 

 

Medication

 

 

Your pediatrician may prescribe a proton pump inhibitor for your baby’s reflux if other interventions aren’t working that well.  These meds should be a last resort to consider only when the reflux is severe and literally nothing else is helping.  Why?  They have side effects, they aren’t necessarily that safe, and they don’t work that well.  The University of Michigan recently release an article on the overmedication of infants with reflux.  They explain how reflux is a common condition that most infants outgrow and doesn’t necessarily need pharmaceutical intervention. 

 

 

 

Sources: 

http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/reflux-infants-children

http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerdinfant

http://www.mommyser.com/myblog/10-natural-remedies-infant-reflux

http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201304/over-diagnosis-reflux-infants-leads-needless-medication-0

 

 

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/babies-receive-acid-reflux-meds-doc/story?id=14926271

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advice to New Dads from Old Dads

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So Lindsay Pascoe, my wonderful wife, asked me to write a blog post on the dad’s perspective of having a kid....but what do I know about having a baby?   I just take the photos for this blog and have yet to experience that particular joy.

Then I remembered all the people in my life who I know have had kids.  I reached out to them with the idea that they might answer a few questions and would be able to write an article combining their responses.

Their answers, however, were too special and touching, so I changed the plan and now will show them in full.... unedited over the course of the next few weeks.

So on to the first. This one is a little special. In wondering about childbirth I did what every guy would do, I first turned to my dad.

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Robin Pascoe

Teacher, Father of 3.

 


 

What was it like hearing that your wife/partner/girlfriend/random lady you just met was pregnant?

It's not possible to say the complete mix of emotions; sense of excitement, adventure, anticipation, scare at the thought of responsibility about bringing new life into the world (relief that all the systems work!!!)

What was the pregnancy like?  Was it scary?  Easy? What's it like for the dads in what is usually considered a feminine area?

The three pregnancies were each their own experience. The first:  it's all new and you find your partner lingering in the bookshop looking at the books on pregnancy.  We collected all the books of photos of development in the womb, etc.  It was all new and we were nervous.  But it was still an adventure.  By the third, we didn't do so much research, but then Hannah was our surprise baby and we were in our mid thirties so much more confident in the world.  And I hear you ask about the middle child?  Well you know what they say about middle children (only joking Ben)

How did you prep yourself for labor?  Any scary stories? Did you plan the route, pack a bag?  Did it all go according to plan?  Were there any emergencies during labor?

Each time was different. The first baby was overdue by two weeks so we went to the hospital for an induced birth with a sense of planned ordered firmness. This was a long labour – over 24 hours. There was the old Irish nun who kept advising "Don't burst your boiler, dear" and in a pethadine induced haze, Liz repeatedly telling me to return the staffroom clock on the wall. 

The second baby was due in late December.  It was at the end of a hot day and we drove to the hospital in the freshness of the cool evening on a Sunday....Liz got out of the car and her waters broke (much to the consternation of the passing couple walking their dog).  By contrast, this was a shorter birth – all over by about 1 am, though a long period afterwards of bleed that meant I was left holding the baby for quite some time (see below).

The final birth involved arriving at the hospital in a music tuner's van (a work car that I was driving at that moment).  Again, after the birth a period of heavy bleeding and a little worry for a by now older mother. 

Did you photograph the labor?  How did that work?  Do you have any photos that you would like (can) share...

Yes, all three were photographed – and developed within hours and attached to cards printed specifically for each birth (with hand drawn cartoons).

I doubt if your mother would allow them to be posted. Ask her.

What was it like meeting your new baby for the first time?

Our first born was whisked away quickly to the Children's Hospital because he was born with a cleft lip and palate – so there was less time for holding and bonding. Though, from memory, it was me who drove the baby in a humidcrib to PMH (Princess Margaret Hospital) because it was quicker than an ambulance. Not that there was any sense of emergency or immediacy because he was a healthy, well-weighted baby (apart from the palate problem). In fact he was the giant of the neonatal ward.

As I mentioned immediately after Ben was born, Liz had a major bleed and was whisked away so I sat for over an hour holding him. This was a special time and I sang to Ben (me who was cast as a mute in a musical and who sings idiosyncratically at the best of times).  But I am proud to say that I sang to my son at his birth and hope that he sings to his children all his life.

(* a note from Liz: Robin's wife*  "I must make one correction. I did not have a bleed after your birth ( the bleed was after Hannah's).  I was however away from you and Dad for over an hour because back in 1982 the hospital practice was that the mother after labour must produce urine- which was measured by the midwife- and then you got your baby back.  After all that effort pushing you out - the largest of our 3- it took me over an hour to do the urinal deed. Hence Dad's singing.")

It's difficult to say the emotions of a daughter after two sons – I know saying at the time to Liz that "she had what she was hoping for, a daughter".  Unlike the other two, at this birth I had the opportunity of cutting the umbilical cord – how things change over such a short time – and remarking about how tough it was to cut through the tissue. The enormity of having a daughter after sons is something I am still coming to terms with.  It has certainly made for an assertive daughter (it's called the Germaine Greer syndrome, as she was daughter in a household of males).  My first impressions of Hannah were that she was going to make her mark on our lives.  And she has.

What was it like bringing a new baby home?  How did you cope with lack of sleep, feedings?

By the time Pip came home from hospital he was well seasoned and we had everything prepared and ready. But nothing quite prepares you for the sense of responsibility. The impact on your lives is enormous – and yet somehow satisfying and fulfilling. 

Sleep? Who needs sleep? You can always sleep in the grave.

With the other two, we had less sleep.

Any advice for New Fathers?

Enjoy the experience. It is incomparable, demanding and totally rewarding.

Any other anecdotes you would like to share?

Not at this moment.

Have you ever tasted breastmilk?  intentionally or unintentionally

Closest I came to it was licking some spilt formula from my fingers. 

The Apgar Test

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What is it, anyway?  You might hear parents bragging about their kid’s Apgar scores….is this some pre-K aptitude test that you need to worry about?  Well, considering preschools now have waiting lists that you need to get on while your child is in the womb, it wouldn’t be far-fetched.  The Apgar is actually the first “test” that your child will undergo, and gives a picture of how well your newborn is adapting to extrauterine life immediately after birth.

When is the test performed?  Twice.

  • At one minute after birth
  • At five minutes after birth

Why do we do the Apgar test?

The primary purpose of the test is to help nurses and doctors determine if your baby’s breathing and heart function is ok. 

The APGAR assesses five things:

  1. Activity
  2. Pulse
  3. Grimace
  4. Appearance
  5. Respiration

Each of these is given a score of 0-2, with 0 being not so great, and 2 being the best.

Here’s what the nurses and docs are looking for and how they score your baby:

ACTIVITY: they’ll be looking for muscle tone and how much your baby is moving around

0 no movement

1  some flexion of arms and legs

2 active motion

PULSE (HEART RATE): a baby’s heart rate should be between 120-160 beats per minute

0 no heart rate

1 less than 100 beats per minute

2 greater than 100 beats per minute

GRIMACE

0 no response to being suctioned with the blue bulb

1 makes a grumpy face

2 makes a really grumpy face, along with a cry, cough, or sneeze

APPEARANCE (SKIN COLOR): a nice, pink skin color shows your baby is oxygenating well

0 blue

1  pink, with blueish hands and feet

2 pink all over

RESPIRATION (BREATHING)

0 not breathing

1 slow and irregular, weak cry

2 breathing well, robust crying

Numbers are then totalled, with a newborn being able to receive a score of 0-10.  The higher the score, the better the baby is doing.  A score of 7-10 is optimal.  Anything less than this means it’s time to intervene. 

What can cause a low score?

  • Traumatic birth
  • Fluid trapped in baby’s lungs
  • C-section: vaginal birth helps to push fluid out of the lungs

A low score at one minute usually improves by five minutes.  If it doesn’t, your baby will probably be transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for some TLC.  Most of the time, babies with low scores do just fine and have no long-term effects, so nothing to fret too much about! 

 

For more info on the APGAR, check out this video from babycenter.com:

http://www.babycenter.com/2_newborn-apgar-test_10300050.bc


Sources:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003402.htm

http://www.babycenter.com/0_the-apgar-score_3074.bc

 

Hold off on the First Bath

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Why are hospitals so quick to bathe newborns?  Up until recently, not many people questioned this practice.  After all, doesn’t every parent relish the feeling of having their freshly bathed new bundle handed to them, the scent of Johnson’s baby shampoo lingering in their hair?  Well, some do, but others would prefer to hold off on that first bath, letting the vernix do its amazing work for a little bit longer. Vernix is a cheeselike substance that coats a fetus’s skin and provides a protective, antimicrobial skin barrier in the watery womb. During delivery vernix acts as a lubricant, then continues to provide antibacterial, temperature-regulating and cleansing benefits after birth. 

This calls into question our current practice of washing newborns quickly after delivery.  Many hospitals bathe within the first few hours after birth, a time when parents and baby should be bonding as a family unit.  Perhaps they should be waiting longer, or skipping the bath all together for healthy mother/baby dyads who head home within 48-72 hours.  As explained in this article by Birth Bliss,  

Early bathing of the baby removes vernix, which contains antimicrobial proteins that are active against group B streptococcus and E. coli. Delaying the bath and keeping the newborn together with his or her mother until breastfeeding is established may prevent some cases of devastating infections caused by these bacteria.

But it isn’t just the antibacterial properties of vernix that makes a good case for holding off on the first bath.  Here are some other reasons to wait:

Closeness fosters breastfeeding

The first few days are the most influential for establishing effective breastfeeding.  How does this happen?  By being together with mom, smelling her, feeling her warmth, and listening to her heartbeat.  Bathing is an optional activity that causes unnecessary separation, even if it’s just for a short time. 

Newborns can’t regulate their temperature very well

Newborns get cold very easily, and if you’ve ever spent time in a hospital, you know that their rooms can get chilly!  Unless he’s in a warmed incubator, your baby should be bundled or skin to skin with you as much as possible. 

Risk of infection

Hospital acquired infections are on the rise, as are antibiotic resistant bacteria.  A hospital bath increases the risk of your baby’s skin being exposed to these bugs, despite how closely the staff adheres to infection policies.  Keeping baby with you and out of the nursery as much as possible reduces risk of infection.

The first bath only happens once

 

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Even if it’s just a sponge bath, the first bath is a special experience that parents want to be a part of.  In the hospital, this isn’t usually the case.  Baby is whisked away to be bathed by a gloved nurse in a cold room.  We believe baby’s first bath should be warm, nurturing, and with mom and dad present. 

Birthing in a birth center or at home? Then you won’t have to worry about the bath happening too soon.  If birthing in the hospital and you wish to hold off on the bath, simply make your preference known to the staff.  They should honor your wishes without question.

Remember: until the cord falls off, you’ll be giving your baby sponge baths only.  This is to prevent infection.  As soon as the cord is off, it’s time to have fun in the tub!  Here’s a few we recommend:

The First Years

This tub is comfortable and relatively light.  Can be used from the newborn to toddler stage.

Puj Tub

This is a great tub for bathing newborns in the sink.  Folds up nicely and is ideal for travel.

 

To read more about the incredible properties of vernix and why delayed bathing is good practice, check out these articles:

http://birthbliss.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/benefits-of-vernix-its-amazing-stuff/

 http://eco18.com/dont-wash-newborn/