Monday, February 24, 2014

Spoil Yourself -- Hold Your Baby

When you are pregnant you get so much (unsolicited) advice. And when you have the baby, you get even more! How many times have you been told that if you hold your baby too much, you'll spoil your baby? We have strong feelings on this subject over at Birth Boot Camp:

I remember a few days after my first child was born, I was on the phone with my dad and I made a comment about being able to put Daymon down for a little while to get something done!  I was excited about it and my dad was like "Duh, Donna. You shouldn't have to hold your baby the entire day. Don't you know you'll spoil him if you do that?"  Well, no Dad, I didn't know that.  It made me more than a little paranoid though.

I wasn't sure exactly what he meant by "spoiled" though. Did that mean he would be an absolute brat when he got older? Was he going to manipulate me into me doing whatever he wanted? Neither sounded great. Who wants a bratty kid, right?

The thing is, when I held him, he was pretty happy. We lived in married housing at BYU and while there were lots of babies, I didn't want my baby to be the one crying, annoying everyone. And so I held him. A lot.

A few things happened from holding by baby:
1.  He didn't cry.
2.  I didn't cry.
3.  He learned to trust me.
4.  I learned his cues and to trust myself.
5.  I learned how to be his mother.
6.  I had a great milk supply.

Like with so many things, it's important to trust and follow your instincts when it comes to mothering. Holding (or wearing) your new baby almost always feels right. Before birth, your baby was never separated from you. They want to be held. They are used to the way you smell, sound, walk, and talk. They want to be close to their food supply for crying out loud!

Know what's funny? My kids don't remember this at all. OK, that's not really funny. It's more sad than anything. I do believe it made them confident and trusting, and dare I say, independent? Even though they don't remember that time, I remember it. I treasure the time I spent doing nothing but holding my babies. Now that they are big people, they don't sit in my lap and I don't cradle them in my arms like I did when they were babies. 

So, when all those people tell you not to hold your baby because you might "spoil" them, you go right ahead!  You won't spoil your babies -- you're spoiling yourself with one of the greatest gifts you'll ever enjoy. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Baby-Friendly" is not a Substitute for MOTHER-FRIENDLY

If you read my blog, y'all know that I was involved in my local birth network chapter and on the Board of BirthNetwork National for a year.  The basis of the Birth Network chapters is the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative written by CIMS and its ideas, research, and philosophy are at the root of the Birth Boot Camp childbirth curriculum.  If you are not familiar with the MFCI, you should be!  Read what I wrote about it here.

A good friend of mine is training to become a Birth Boot Camp Instructor and one of the requirements is that you have to attend 2 births, preferably that are in different locations from where you had your own babies.  It can be any kind of birth too, not just a natural birth.  In fact, we really like our instructors to have the opportunity to witness an induction/epidural/c-section. It's a great learning opportunity.

Back to the MFCI, my experience is that many people have heard of "baby friendly" care even though they don't really know what that means.  It sounds nice though, doesn't it?  In my opinion, "mother-friendly" care should be the starting point.  Most American hospitals have it backwards.  My friend was invited to an induction at a Baby-Friendly hospital, and her thoughts on this birth were so insightful. She gave me permission to share them here.

Mom and baby are fine. Everything went just the way she had planned. But I have been so emotional all evening about it. I keep telling myself she has the birth she wanted but she missed out!, I just keep crying. I feel like she missed out on the sacredness of it. There was hardly any emotion. Dr broke her water at 8:20 (she was at a 2) then she was started on pit. She was already in the bed with the monitor and blood pressure cuff. She stayed that way the WHOLE day except once when she went to the bathroom maybe around 10:00. 

They kept upping the pit but she wasn't having any kind of contractions that made her need to stop and relax. But she got an epidural @1:10 because they were worried that if she didn't do it then the doctor wouldn't have time because there has been several c-sections unplanned and there were already several scheduled. So at 1:30 they put in a catheter and she was at a 4. At 2:50 she was at a 6. She was frustrated that things hasn't moved any quicker. All along they kept upping the pit. 

At 3:15 she says I think I feel pressure but I don't know. (This was her 6th child and she says that once she pushes they come out quick) so the nurse comes and says you are 10! But you can't have the baby. The doctor is at another hospital with an emergency. So they find another doctor and start getting everything ready. 

I notice the nurse is getting a little panicky. The baby's heart rate slowed. She whispers "It's time to get the bay out now." And they just start pushing her. The doctor was tugging at the baby's head so hard his arms were shaking. 

There was no feeling in the room. Nobody is saying "way to go." Nobody is giving her any kind of excitement. Finally I spoke up and said something like "Its almost time to meet your baby!"
The baby was born at 3:43. Nobody wanted to cut the cord, so I did. The hospital has a "baby friendly" policy for the baby to be on mom for 1 hour so on to mom she went. But it just didn't seem like she was that into her baby. Neither was the dad. They had one of their kids there who was really excited to see the baby. Anyway long story. It took another 20 minutes for her to deliver the placenta and they didn't even look at it! I was a little stunned. They just tossed it.

As sad as it was, it was really good to witness the "un-emotional" side of birth. To witness someone experiencing it is so eye opening. She was so not attached to what was happening and missing out. It connected all the things I know, and have read and watched. I feel like the hospital putting in to place the "baby friendly" care is trying to make up for the moms being unattached. They have this in place to try and help, but if they would do mother friendly from the beginning they wouldn't have to force the baby friendly.

Birth does matter. How moms - and dads - get started with their baby is important.  It's important to be involved in your healthcare and I'll even go as far as to say to feel the baby be born.  All of these things will affect how well the mom (and dad) bond with their new baby.

I've said it for years and I'll say it again -- labor serves as a bridge between pregnancy and becoming your baby's parents.  If mothers care about how their babies get here, they'll be excited to hold their new babies and the oxytocin will be flowing.

If you know me at all, you know I'm famous for saying "time and place" in just about everything. There's a time and place for an epidural or a c-section, or an IV, or an induction.  That's not what I'm talking about in this post.  I feel like I've always got to have a disclaimer, so there it is.

Childbirth education is key to having an AMAZING birth!  Requesting Mother Friendly maternity care is a step in the right direction, but consumers have to speak up.  Don't just get an epidural and lie down and take it, not participating in one of the most important days of your life!