birth

10 Surprising Facts About Your Newborn

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Newborn babies may be small and need a lot of caring for but they are such a wonder! It is amazing what they can do. Here are some surprising and interesting facts about your newborn.

Vernix: Many babies are born with vernix on their bodies. If your baby comes past his due date, there will probably very little. Every baby has a thick coat of vernix in utero. Its main benefit is its anti-microbial properties which protects your baby’s delicate skin from the acidic levels of your amniotic fluid. Rather than wiping or washing it away, rub it into your baby's skin. The World Health Organization recommends leaving it for at least 24 hours.

Skin to Skin: It is no secret how important skin to skin contact is with your baby; not just right after birth either! Skin to skin is beneficial for weeks. Laying with your baby this way, supports breastfeeding, regulates her body temperature, and greatly reduces stress. Studies have shown that it reduces the risk of postpartum depression in mother's as well.

Baby Poop: Get used to talking about your baby's poop! Your baby's first poop is called meconium. It is dark, tarry and consists of amniotic fluid, secretions of the intestinal glands, bile pigments, fatty acids, and intrauterine debris. It can be hard to wipe off! It is helpful to put some olive oil on your baby's bum, this will help get the meconium off easily. If breastfeeding, your baby's poop will transition to a mustard yellow and will look seedy. This is normal! Your baby's poop won't change to brown until solid foods are introduced.

Taste buds: By the early age of 13 weeks gestation, your baby's taste buds are fully formed. Your baby can taste everything you eat through the amniotic fluid. Research shows that baby's have a predisposition to like sweet flavors more; your breast milk has a sweet flavor.

Vision: Newborns are very nearsighted; they can focus no further than 6-10 inches away. Baby's enjoy looking at your face but don't see the details. Newborns don't see color well and focus better on black and white images however, they develop color vision very quickly.

Crying: Newborns are born with working tear ducts and glands, but only enough to lubricate the eyes. You won't see any tears when your baby cries until about 1 to 3 months of age. As far as crying goes, your baby cries for many different reasons. The most common are hunger, thirst, dirty diaper, wanting to be held and being tired.

Eating: Babies are born with a very tiny stomach which makes sense because before your breast milk is in, your baby will only eat small amounts of colostrum, albeit very frequently! To give you an idea of just how small their tummy is, on day one it is the size of a cherry and should only take in 1-1.4 teaspoons at each feeding. By one month it is the size of a large egg.

Sleep: During the first 24 hours of life outside the womb, your baby will take a decent nap for a few hours at around 6 hours of age. From 0-3 your baby's sleep pattern will very likely look nothing like yours! Their sleep schedule can range from every 45 minutes to 3-4 hours any given day. This is normal. Their circadian rhythm takes time adjust.

Reflexes: Newborns are born with several different reflexes that disappear over the next few months. The rooting reflex happens when you touch your baby's cheek and signifies hunger; this disappears at 3-4 months. The stepping reflex is present at birth. If you put your baby's feet on a flat surface, he will march his legs up and down like walking; this disappears at 2-4 months. These are just a couple!

Hearing: Within 10 minutes of birth, your baby's hearing is sophisticated enough to determine where a sound is coming from.

Newborns aren't newborns for very long! This time is wonderfully challenging and beautiful. Take it one day at a time.

Health Foundations Birth Center has a Moms Group that meets weekly on Thursdays at 2:30. This group is free and open to the public. This is a great way to connect with other mamas! We hope to see you there.

 

Creating Your Natural Birth Plan

There are many factors to consider as you prepare for the birth of your baby and one important step is taking the time to create a written copy of your natural birth plan. A birth plan is a document that describes your expectations and wishes for the way that you would like your birthing experience to unfold. Although changes may arise and it is important to remain flexible, having a birth plan helps ensure that all of your health care providers know and respect your wishes to the best of their ability. This is particularly important if a natural, unmedicated birth is what you are seeking. The task of writing your natural birth plan may seem overwhelming at first; but let’s take a look at some of the key components you will want to include. 

Birthing Environment:

Your birthing environment and who and what you desire to have in it is an important consideration for your natural birth plan. Some questions to consider about the environment are:

  • What family members do you wish to have present during your labor, the birth and after the baby is born?
  • Do you plan to have a doula?
  • Do you wish to have your birth photographed or videotaped?
  • Are there any comfort objects you would like to have handy such as treasured photographs or a favorite pillow or blanket?
  • Do you want to have music playing? Or silence?
  • Do you wish to have the lights dimmed?
  • Would you like to have access to headphones for music or guided meditation?

Laboring:

Being prepared with ways to make your labor as comfortable and tolerable as possible is an important way to help you achieve your goal of a natural birth. There are many natural techniques that can help alleviate the pain associated with labor that do not include medication or epidurals.  Some questions to be sure your natural birth plan addresses are:

  • What props would you like to have available for labor? (For example: a birthing ball, a squatting bar or a birthing stool)
  • Do you want to be able to labor in water? (For example: in a birthing tub or shower)
  • How do you feel about fetal monitoring? Is it important to you that monitoring only be intermittent to allow you to move around more freely? 
  • What pain management techniques would you like to have available and be supported in using during your labor? (For example: breathing exercises, massage, hypnotherapy, visual imaging, acupressure and guided relaxation)  Nitrous oxide is a great alternative to pain medicine for  those who wish to utilize it during labor. 
  • If your goal is a natural birth and you are delivering in a hospital setting, be sure to address your desire to avoid unnecessary interventions. You may also wish to request that you not be offered any pain medicine unless you specifically ask for it.  

Pushing and the Birth:

Water Birth

In this section of your birthing plan, you should include information about how you would like to be supported during the second stage of labor and the birth of your baby.  Factors to address include:

  • Do you want to be told when to push or allow your body to do it instinctively?
  • Are there ways that you wish to help prepare your body further for delivery such as perineal massage, hot compresses or oils?
  • Do you want to have access to a mirror to see the baby as he is born?
  • Do you want to be able to "catch" the baby when she is born?
  • Think about the things that are important to you is an emergency necessitates a transfer to a hospital or a C-section.
  • If in a hospital setting, how do you feel about the use of instruments such as the vacuum or forceps? How do you feel about the possibility of an episiotomy?
  • Do you wish to allow the placenta to be born spontaneously versus with assistance?

After delivery:

After Birth

Some of your most important wishes for your first moments with baby will likely be included in this section of your natural birthing plan. Questions to consider include:

  • Would you like to have immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby? Skin-to-skin contact during the first moments of life has been found to be one of the most important things you can do for your newborn. Learn more about the importance of the skin-to-skin practice
  • Would you like to delay the process of cord clamping to allow time for extra blood flow from the placenta?
  • Would you like to delay routine procedures such as eye drops, a bath, and the vitamin K injection to allow you to have time to bond with your baby?
  • Are there any routine procedures that you do not wish to have done to your baby?
  • Do you wish to save the placenta for encapsulation or other purposes?
  • In the event of an emergency C-section, who would you like to have stay with your baby until you are able to hold him? Do you wish for your partner to have immediate skin-to-skin contact?

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when writing your natural birth plan. Be sure to keep your plan direct and concise, so that anyone who is on your birth team can clearly understand your wishes. Print several copies of this document and have them available for doctors, midwives, nurses and family members on the day of your delivery. In addition to having a written birth plan, it is also important to choose health care providers that support and uphold the value of the natural birth process. Statistics show that approximately 85 % of mothers are capable of having a successful, unmedicated birth. The other 15 percent represent those who have high risk pregnancies and other complications.  

At the Health Foundations, we strive to encourage, nurture and support you in your desire to bring your baby into the world in the most natural way possible. We are confident that the sense of accomplishment you will feel when holding your wonderfully alert baby in your arms will be well worth your amazing efforts. Contact Health Foundations to learn more about planning your natural birth and to schedule a free consultation with a midwife or a tour of our Birth Center.

What is a Midwife?

Midwife Kat

Wondering if midwifery care is the best option for you?

If you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant, you may be beginning to explore your options for the type of birth you would like to have. You probably have friends who have given birth in hospitals and may also know people who have used midwives or even had home births. But what exactly is a midwife and how does one compare to a doctor? Good question!

Simply put, midwives care for the well-being of mothers and infants during the prenatal, birthing and postnatal periods. Although in most countries midwives are the primary care providers for pregnant women, in the US they only comprise approximately 10 percent of births. They are responsible for helping mothers sustain healthy pregnancies and have meaningful and safe birth experiences in addition to providing recovery support and infant care. Similar to doctors, midwives are trained to give physical exams, detect complications, order laboratory work and screening tests, and counsel and educate the mother to be. They also are qualified to deliver babies not only in hospitals but also in birthing centers.

Where midwifery is often said to stand apart from standard OB/GYN care is in the level of personalized attention and the ‘woman-centered’ approach. Midwives strive to promote the practice of normal birth that is medication and intervention free. Whereas movies and television tend to sensationalize birth as a painful and dramatic experience in a medical setting, midwives help to facilitate the natural birthing process in a calm and comfortable environment for mom. Because their all-inclusive approach aims to support women physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, midwives play an integral role in not only the life of the mother but also the entire family. 

Unlike doctors, midwives come from a variety of training backgrounds. There are three types of midwives in the US: Certified Professional Midwives, Certified Nurse-Midwives and Direct Entry Midwives

Certified Nurse-Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives are educated in similar extensive training programs requiring graduate level education. CNMs however, have the nursing component in their education and typically only practice in clinical and hospital settings. Certified Professional Midwives specialize in birth outside of hospital settings including home births and independent birthing centers. Both Certified Professional Midwives and Certified Nurse Midwives have met the requirements for certification by their respective Boards, the North American Registry of Midwives and the American College of Nurse Midwives. Direct Entry Midwives however are midwives who have been trained in the discipline through apprenticeship, self-study or a school or program that is specific to the practice of midwifery. All midwives follow a model of care that emphasizes the normalcy of the process of pregnancy and birth and that places the utmost priority on caring for all aspects of the mother’s well-being.

Now that you know what a midwife is and what they do, here are some reasons that this approach to obstetrical care might be for you: 

1. You want a warm and inviting birthing environment 

Health Foundations Birthing Suite

Health Foundations Birthing Suite

With the exception of CNMs, most midwives practice in out-of-hospital settings like birthing centers and private homes. Because of this, your birthing atmosphere is more likely to be homelike, quiet and calm with no beeping.

2. You want more personalized care

Midwives tend to be more intimately involved in your pregnancy and birthing process than doctors. Your midwife will typically spend more time with you to develop your personalized birthing plan and to ensure that you are healthy not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.

3. You want to avoid unnecessary interventions

Often in hospitals if your labor is not progressing quickly enough, they will administer drugs to speed up the process. The drugs can then cause the mother to have more painful contractions that consequently end up leading to the decision to have an epidural. The epidural tends to slow the progress of labor again which can ultimately lead to the decision to perform a C-section. Under the care of a midwife, you will not be rushed through your labor. All efforts will be made to respect your wishes of a natural birth and help you control your pain using alternative methods such as massage, acupressure, showers and baths, homeopathy and changing positions.

4. You want to be able to move around during your labor 

Midwives encourage mothers to try a variety of different positions throughout their labor to ensure that they are comfortable and progressing steadily. In hospitals, you will often be hooked up to IVs and monitors that necessitate staying in your bed. Your midwife will instead monitor your baby intermittently so that you can move about freely while laboring.  

5. You want to know who will be delivering your baby ahead of time

Often with traditional OB/GYN and hospital care, you will not know the doctor who will be on duty the day of your delivery.  Because midwifery care is aimed to be a more personalized experience, your midwife or members of your midwifery team with whom you have already developed a trusting relationship will most certainly be present on the day of your birth. 

Overall, midwives are a great option for women seeking a traditional, natural, and personal birthing experience and who wish to develop a trusting and rewarding relationship with their caregiver. Many midwives also perform regular wellness and primary healthcare that extends beyond the time of your pregnancy and birth. If you are high risk or are experiencing any complications in your pregnancy, consider combining the care of an obstetrician and a midwife. At Health Foundations, you can also elect to experience our Birthing Center’s quality of personalized care in a hospital setting under the care of our own Dr. Dennis Hartung. To learn more about the choice to have a midwife assist you in your pregnancy and birth journey, contact Health Foundations to schedule a consultation or schedule a tour of our Birthing Center.

The team at Health Foundations is seeking to redefine the maternity and women’s health care experience in America. P.S. We're hiring!


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