This post wraps up my birthing blog series. It has been the most interesting process to write this series for you all! Going through the entire process, from beginning to end, in blog form, is quite the helpful metaphor for mirroring birth. If you’re new to this blog series, you may want to visit earlier posts to get your feet wet. You can also peruse through to find specific information you’re looking for if you’re needing that. The first post is Light Step Into Birthing in the USA and follows from there. This post will cover a few things that come up once the baby has been born including cord clamping, the placenta, postpartum depression, and immediate care for baby post birth. Again as with other posts, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but this is meant to spark your thinking about where you’re at with these themes and how much you want to investigate more.
Clamping the Umbilical Cord
There is a wide variation in when the umbilical cord is clamped / cut between different care providers. Some places speedily do this quickly, and some let it pulse until there’s nothing else happening and then that bond is removed. Babies born in birth centers or at home usually have the cord clamped at the choice of the parents which is usually after the cord has stopped pulsing (there is an intense level of highly nutrient dense material going to the baby when the cord is still pulsing). Some practitioners in hospitals may clamp cords at the first chance due to the more convenient timing (this is not always the case, I was recently at a birth with the midwives at University Hosiptal in Aurora, CO and they let the cord pulse completely stop before anything was done with it). Letting the cord finish pulsing before it is removed allows for a higher amount of blood circulation in baby, and results in lower levels of red blood cells in the baby. Midwives testify that premature babies especially benefit from delayed cord clamping and cutting. It’s one of the most potently nourishing things you can do for the baby once the laboring is complete. If you want to give your baby this time, you may need to be explicit with your care providers. Know that you can always deny for the cord to be clamped / cut if you’re not ready and you want to wait. The evidence is on your side!
Some people feel surprised at the necessity to birth the placenta once the baby is out. There can be a “I thought this was finished” type of reaction. The placenta delivery is often much more mild in terms of sensation in comparison to birthing the baby. It’s a squishy, smaller organ that simply needs to slide out. The placenta will often detach from the uterus in its own time. It’s no longer needed and the body knows. It is sometimes given a gentle tug to get it to come out, but it does not need to be pulled out aggressively (which can be painful and cause bleeding). The natural process of releasing the placenta is usually respected in birth centers and home births. Some hospital staff can be known to rush the delivery of the placenta. Again, know that you can request to wait! Different positions can help the placenta to come out (once the person has rested after birthing and has had some time with the baby, they may be asked to sit upright and release the placenta). The risk of postpartum hemorrhage is there, especially if the placenta is taken before it’s ready.
The Postpartum Glow Time
How to hold onto that baby! If they try to take baby away soon after birth, request to keep them. Make it known you want skin to skin contact immediately following the birth before you get to that moment (it’s hard to make those requests when you’re in the post birthing time). If you’re unavailable for some reason, have the baby get skin to skin with the closest next person (if there is a second parent), or with some warm body. The warmth and hormones of the person who birthed the baby can regulate the baby’s system so fast it’s like a miracle. There’s been multiple cases noted about babies whom were needing medical attention and kept in incubators / nurseries and once they were put on a warm body (especially the person who birthed the baby), their systems began to heal way quicker and with more ease than with the medical care. Babies who are separated from the warmth of the human body immediately often have a harder time with their first few days. The euphoria that is sometimes available post birthing to some people should be marinated in for as long as possible, for all parties. Keep the baby warm with blankets and delay the first bath as long as possible. Keep the vernix on the baby when possible (this is a white kind of fluid that will be absorbed into the baby’s skin and has a ton of nutrients). Sometimes you’ll have to continually negotiate with staff to keep your baby with you, but it’s worth it! You may have to tell them to leave you alone until you’re ready to give that baby up. This is important for the baby’s nervous system, if at all possible, to stay close to the birthing body. The best place for baby to be is on the chest. There are other procedures often given in hospitals to newborns including Vitamin K & Hep B vaccinations and antibiotic eye ointment. It would be good to do some research on these procedures and decide ahead of time what you would like to do about them so you’re not caught off guard when they ask you. If you would like unbiased information about any of it, please email me and I’m happy to provide some resources around newborn procedures.
It’s real. It occurs way more often than we may think. Sometimes it’s really intense and changes everything and sometimes it’s subtle. It can hit immediately or within a year following the birth. The birthing person’s system has gone through the most intense physiological process that humans do. Of course their system is altered and needing support. Symptoms include feeling hopeless, insomnia, excessive crying, lack of appetite, nightmares, bizarre thoughts and new or heightened fears / phobias, and hostile or suicidal thoughts. Sometimes this can turn into postpartum psychosis. Most cases can be prevented and treated easily with simple care provided to the mother. If that’s not available, it can turn into a stressful situation quickly.
One step to preventing this is to make sure the birthing person gets sleep, adequate rest, nourishing foods, and support caring for the newborn. A postpartum doula is a wonderful resource for this time if you have the availability and funds for it. I’ve heard people say they would make a monthly payment for the rest of their lives, that it was the best money they ever spent! A postpartum doula is someone who will come to give you extra resources (depending on their training) including cooking for you, massage, help with nursing if you’re breastfeeding, taking care of the baby while you sleep, do laundry / cleaning / whatever is needed in the home, and providing other emotional supports. While friends and relatives can do some of this too, sometimes it’s nice and easier to have someone help you where there’s no expectation and no emotional baggage. If you have wonderful supportive family who is so healthy, by all means use them! Often times families have some dysfunctional dynamics that can add to the stress of the new parents (which adds to the stress of the baby). You’ll know who is the right postpartum care for you. If you suspect you may be suffering from postpartum depression, get in touch with a caregiver who is familiar with it.
This post concludes the birthing blog series. Thank you for your presence here reading! I commend you if you’ve gotten through it. And if you haven’t, but you know someday you might want / need to, keep it in the back of your mind. Please write to me with questions / needs and I will get back to you with the best of what I have. Until then, so much warmth, with love, Alicia