So, I was planning on taking the holiday off and skipping this week for our blog, but today was such an incredibly wonderful day, I just had to share.
At 8:00am this morning, my friend’s husband called me, telling me my friend was in labor and asking me to meet them at the hospital and be their stand-in doula (their planned-for doula was out of town). As a postpartum doula, I felt rather unprepared to support a woman in birth, but I jumped at the chance to help them out, and told them to text me when they were on their way. An hour later, the new dad called me, telling me that baby had arrived! What!?!?!?
Baby was so determined to enter the world, he came 3 weeks early on the bathroom floor!!!! My rock-star friend was alone at the time (dad was getting the car) and caught him herself! Ah-mazing! Long story short, everybody is healthy and happy and staying in the hospital for observation and rest.
We all (mom, dad, baby, me) spent the rest of the day hanging out in the hospital, getting baby to eat, and resting. Here’s what mom did right for her baby’s first day of life:
- Mom and dad were prepared. They took a great childbirth education class, read tons of pregnancy and childbirth books, and kept up with all prenatal check-ups. They took a breastfeeding class, asked lots of questions, and read up on breastfeeding.
- Mom trusted her body. During the (very short) birth, mom trusted that her body knew what to do. She didn’t freak out; she just did what her body told her to do (ie squat and push and catch the baby). As a first-time mom, this can be hard to do.
- Mom and dad advocated for themselves and their baby. At the hospital, when hospital staff wanted to do anything to mom or the baby, they asked what the procedure was and why it was necessary. When they wanted to give her pitocin to get the placenta out, she told them she would rather try pushing first. When they wanted to give the baby his first vaccination, dad told them to hold off until their first doctor visit. Anytime baby was away from mom, dad was with the baby. Baby was never alone without a parent… not for a single second.
- Mom and baby did skin to skin as soon as they could. As soon as baby and mom were back together, mom opened her hospital gown and did skin to skin with baby. When mom wanted a shower and food, dad took off his shirt and did skin to skin until she was done. Mom knew how important skin to skin contact is for baby’s health (blood pressure, blood sugar levels, heart rate, temperature, etc), for her own milk production (more skin to skin leads to more milk), and for the breastfeeding relationship (baby eats more if baby is close to mom, not all swaddled up on the other side of the room).
- Mom offered the breast early and often. Baby finally latched about 3 hours after birth. He was tired so he rested a lot on mom’s chest. About two hours later, mom hand-expressed some colostrum into a spoon and fed it to him. Mom did that a couple times to get food into him and to tell her boobs that a baby had arrived they needed to make more milk. He pooped (We were so excited, we shouted it down the hall!). The more food he got in him, the longer his nursing sessions became.
- Mom avoided all breastfeeding no-nos. No formula, no pacifiers, no nursery (baby roomed in). Mom planned to breastfeed, and she did!
- Mom took care of herself. Mom had support (dad and me), she ate healthy food (not necessarily hospital food), she took deep breaths when baby had trouble latching on and was incredibly patient, and even though she was feeling really good, she stayed in bed, in a reclined position and rested when the baby rested. She did not spend half the day on Facebook or on the phone (calls to the grandparents only); all she did was gaze into the face of her beautiful creation and bask in the glory of the day.
Now, not all of us can do a complication-free, unassisted birth in the bathroom with our first baby, but we can all strive to follow the practices of continuous contact with baby, advocacy for self and baby, and early and frequent offering of the breast. Congratulations to my dear friend, her husband, and her VERY lucky, adorable, incredible baby! Happy Labor Day to you all!
Special thanks to:
Robin Ross, Hypnobirthing instructor at Bellies to Babies Studio for preparing the parents-to-be so wonderfully.
Tricia Fitzgerald, doula extraordinaire at Gentle Beginning for helping prepare me to help a mom in labor and for being a sounding board for breastfeeding issues and other proposed interventions.
Dad, who was so wonderful throughout the whole crazy day. You rock, dad! Literally. No, really, he’s a musician, so he does rock regularly.