by Jill Gliha, BirthLink Board Member
Part Six of a Six Part Series – Empowering Hospital Birth
Delay all hospital protocol for two hours after the birth. Much of what ” needs ” to be done to your baby after the birth does not need to be done right away – if at all. The first few hours of your baby’s life are meant to be spent with you. Once your baby is born he or she should be placed immediately on the Mother’s chest to begin skin to skin. Weight, height, hep b vaccination ( this is another blog post ), vitamin K shot, eye ointment, bath etc. all can be delayed for at least the first hour if not two. I recommend skipping the bath all together and here is why. The smell of the amniotic fluid that your baby has been swimming in for 9 months matches the smell of the colostrum from your breasts! This smell is one of the many things Mother Nature has created to increase the ability to bond and nurse. You can wipe your baby down with a clean towel, but it is best to wait to bathe your baby once you are home.
I also recommend looking into the research behind the tasks that are done to newborns in the hospital. For example, the eye ointment is put in their eyes to prevent the spread of an STD from the mother to the baby during the birth. If you know you are STD free, then you really don’t need to be rubbing antibiotic in your baby’s eyes directly after it’s birth. It is also one less thing that will appear on your hospital bill! Look beyond the hospital resources provided as you do have a choice in what your baby will or will not receive.
The first few hours of your baby’s life are crucial to both your baby and you. Those hours should be spent cuddling, nursing, kissing and falling in love with your baby. It is not fair when the baby keeps being taken from its Mother. This time needs to be more respected in the hospital setting. The only way this will happen is if the Mother’s they are serving demand that this special time be honored. Have these immediate postpartum requests included in your birth plan. State you want to delay all hospital protocol until the first nursing session is complete. And, if anything needs to medically be done ask if it can be done with the baby on it’s Mother’s chest.