Now Baby Is Here - Preparing For Birth Manual

Now Baby is Here…

Skin to Skin

It is now commonly accepted that ideally mother and baby should be able to have skin to skin contact immediately following the birth, if circumstances allow.

Not only is this a wonderfully intimate way to meet and bond with your new baby, the benefits to baby are numerous and well-documented. As well as studies suggesting that this close contact is calming for baby after the stresses of birth, it helps them to regulate their body temperature, stabilise their heart and breathing rates and increase their blood sugar levels.

Another reason that this early contact is recommended is because babies pick up many very important microbes via the vagina, skin-to-skin and through breast feeding, which all help to establish their immune system. This not only helps deter many non-communicable diseases in early life, but helps them have better health when they are older, too. For more information we recommend watching the documentary Microbirth (http://microbirth.com/).

It is recommended that if possible you should enjoy at least an hour of skin to skin contact following the birth, and that over the coming days and weeks you should try to do this as much as possible. What a lovely excuse for a cuddle!

Breastfeeding

If you have decided to try breastfeeding, you can start this as soon as your baby is born and while you are enjoying skin-to-skin time. Encourage your baby’s mouth and nose towards your nipple. Babies can also crawl up your tummy (the dark line most of us get up our tummies acts like a map to the breast) and some may even latch on themselves! For others, it takes a while to get the hang of it. Don’t panic - remember this is new for you and them! Ask for help from your midwife, they will be able to help and guide you on this at the time. And as much as possible, relax and enjoy the baby bubble! Allow bonding to continue. If difficulties arise get support, from midwives, local health workers and lactation consultants.

Vitamin K

All newborn babies will be offered a dose of Vitamin K, either via an injection or orally. It is given as a prophylaxis against bleeding disorders - it helps the blood to clot.

A very small number of babies (about 1 in 10,000) suffer from vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB). This could mean a small nose or mouth bleed could lead to haemorrhage and be potentially very serious.

Administering vitamin K to babies has been standard medical procedure in the UK for some time now, having been introduced after the widespread use of forceps and ventouse during the 60s and 70s led to an increased occurrence of bruising on babies’ heads and bleeding.

For many babies, vitamin K may not be necessary, but there are some instances where a baby is deemed to be higher risk and so it is recommended that a dose of vitamin K is administered. These include;

• Babies born before 37 weeks

• Babies born by forceps, ventouse or caesarean section

• Babies who have been bruised during delivery

• Babies who have breathing difficulties at birth

• Babies with liver problems at birth

• Babies whose mothers have taken drugs during pregnancy for epilepsy, to prevent clots or for TB

Some experts argue that a third of babies who suffer VKDB do not fall into any of these categories, and their first bleed may well be a serious one to the brain or gut – and so potentially fatal. It has been suggested that if only high-risk babies were given vitamin K, 10-20 babies would suffer brain damage each year, and 4-6 babies would die.

Other experts question if newborns really do have ‘low’ levels of vitamin K. Yes, they are lower than an adult’s but it could be argued that complex humans - created through conception, nurtured and grown throughout pregnancy and born via incredible body mechanics would be unlikely to be naturally deficient in something. Vitamin K does pass easily through breast milk and it seems that by day 8 the baby’s reserves of vitamin K are back up to ‘normal’ levels. It is found in green leafy vegetables and avocados, so women can be encouraged to eat plenty of this before and after birth.

It is important to read about vitamin K prior to birth and make an informed decision which you feel comfortable with. This will be unique for each woman; some will ask for the injection, even when their baby is low risk, because that is what the medical profession recommends. Others won’t believe in injections and prefer to administer it orally. Others won’t do it at all, unless a high-risk scenario has occurred. Essentially, this is one of the first decisions we will take as mothers for our children. By researching a topic like this, we can feel confident in our ability to make decisions as a parent. Empowering women to make informed decisions sometimes means throwing a spotlight on alternate ideas and new information, allowing them to truly weigh up all the information available and do what they trust is best for them and their child.

Please read a point of view from the link below or the PDF provided: http://www.gentlebirth.org/archives/ vitktop.html#Controversy

The Early Days, or the 4th trimester

The 4th trimester refers to the 3 month period following birth. Understand this period is an extension of your pregnancy, a time to adjust and of getting to know each other. While you may no longer be pregnant, your baby’s primary need, aside from milk, is still to be with you. Their transition, from womb to world, is huge. Everything is alien to them, and so completely different to the warm, dark, comforting home they spent the last nine months in, with a constant food supply and constant physical contact with you.

You can help ease their transition by making their environment as comforting and familiar as possible. Smell is really a key sense for babies and your smell will be of great comfort to them in these early days especially. If baby’s first clothes or blankets smell of their parents (rather than fabric conditioner!) it will provide them with a real connection with you. So once these items have been first washed, pop them into the parental bed for a week or two. And because baby’s sense of smell is very strong, they may find perfume, deodorant or aftershave very strong and confusing, masking their parents’ comforting scents.

These early days of sleepless nights and blurry, disjointed days can feel like a bit of a fog. Just take it moment by moment and day by day. Do not pressurise yourself to rush back to whatever ‘normal’ was before. Be selfish, if needs be. If you don’t feel like passing your baby around for cuddles with Aunty Joan, or opening your door to streams of wellwishers, then don’t.

Stay in your PJs for as long as possible, delegate chores to anyone keen to help, and try to take every opportunity to sleep. Sleep allows us heal, recover our strength and energy, lifts our mood and, if there was any shock from the birth, helps you process that properly. Nap as much as you can!! This is really important. Let someone else do the washing up.

Relax, rest and enjoy your baby moon time together.

Recovery:

In the days immediately following birth, your body will go through many changes. Do not underestimate the adjustments you will have to make on every level - physically, emotionally and mentally.

• Slow down, there is no rush back to normal life. Do not try to do too much. Let things take their course day by day. The combination of exhaustion and hormones can mean a rollercoaster of emotions (days 3-6). So rest and stay calm - use the breathing techniques to aid restful sleep (especially Long Exhalation breath). It is a time of great adjustment, so give you self that time to adjust!

• Talk about the birth - this will help you debrief the experience - and if necessary plan to have a Birth Stories session with a professional (midwife or doula or psychotherapist) - perhaps even write it all down. This is very therapeutic.

• Day 3 is usually when the milk comes in and can be a time the hormones go a bit up and down - women can sometimes feel very low and upset. A time to rest and be cared for, nourished and looked after.

• Be cared for and nourished by close family and friends - for at least the first 3 months! Have people on hand to keep you company and do jobs, like cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, helping with older children. Added support and company at this time, helps us to feel stronger and connected. This can help advert postnatal depression.

• If you do find you are suffering with PND or PTSD, absolutely seek support and guidance from your midwife, health visitor or doctor. This effects 1 in 10 women and is thus very common and something to get more support to help you through it.

• Take the phone off the hook and stick a note on the front door saying mama and new baby sleeping - please don’t ring the bell.

• Careful of too hot baths - wait to enjoy one of these after the lochia has stopped flowing. You can also buy a postpartum bath healing mix from Neal’s Yard - which is fabulous in a little bath shortly after giving birth. Make a tea with it and then decant it into the bath.

• Limit visitors and make the most of your family time.

• Get plenty of rest and sleep to aid your recovery.

• Drink plenty of fluids.

• Eat foods to aid recovery, especially those rich in zinc, iron, vitamin C and DHA.

• Set aside time for yourself and your new baby.

• Try to get out for a little walk and fresh air by day 6.

• Gentle exercise / yoga can usually commence 6 weeks after a vaginal birth. Postnatal yoga or Pilates is ideal, exercising the deepest core muscles but not risking injury. Be sure to practice with a qualified teacher who knows you are in the postnatal period. You can start doing gentle pelvic exercises from 7 days after birth. Do not resume your pre-pregnancy exercise routines, gym classes or running, until completing 6-9 months of dedicated postnatal exercise classes - if you don’t do this you will likely not strengthen your pelvic floor and your deepest core muscles properly and this can lead to incontinence, back ache, prolapses and the injuries.

• Remember your baby is new to the world, to the sights and sounds and smells all around. Keep a peaceful and gentle environment - and if you don’t want to pass your baby around for cuddles, you don’t have to. Even ask visitors to not wear strong perfume or aftershave - this can be confusing for babies who want their parents smells. Even wash their baby clothes and the sleep with them for a night or two in your bed so the smells of home and family and safety become familiar.

If you have difficulties with breastfeeding, ask for help. Ask your midwife or health visitor to observe you feeding to check your technique and offer suggestions. They can also check baby isn’t having problems feeding because of tongue-tie (which can be resolved with a simple procedure). Many children’s centres run regular breastfeeding support groups and drop-ins, or contact a lactation consultant for more support. Here at LushTums we also have lots of helpful contacts with regards to positive parenting and the challenges that brings - ask us for details and we would be happy to signpost you.

And finally…

We wish you all the very best for the rest of your pregnancy, birth and welcoming your babies to the world.

We would be delighted to hear your news, and about your birth experience afterwards. We love to feature all birth announcements and stories on our social media and blog and to let your class mates know how you are doing. Keep in touch! And if you have any more questions at all please just let us know.

Likewise, if you have any feedback (positive or constructive) that you’d like to share with us, we always value it as it helps us to improve and perfect our services – so please let us know what you thought of this course by emailing - hello@lushtums.co.uk - thank you.