Friday, 10 February 2012

Taking the baby

Need to have another little rant! Was watching 'One born every minute' on Ipad in kitchen. Anyway, was really cross with events after a baby girl was born with difficulty (a condition called shoulder dystocia) when head is born but the shoulders get struck. When she eventually came out she was floppy and shocked and need resusitation. She responded well and started breathing and crying. She was wrapped up and left under a heat lamp whilst a paediatrician told her parents baby needed to go to special care unit. I cannot comment about that decision; what makes me mad is why that mother did have her breathing, crying baby put into her arms first! Instead, her baby was wheeled away on the resusitaire and her poor shocked distressed mother was left lying on an operating table. It was some time later that she was 'allowed' to hold her.

There is a phrase that midwives use when they accompany a woman to theatre for a caesarean section or instrumental birth; 'taking the baby'. What that means is the midwife is the person that the doctor gives the baby to immediatly after its birth. The midwife then carries the baby to a resusitaire where a paediatrian is waiting to check the baby over. If the baby is poorly then that is the best thing for that baby; it may need lots of care and this will be the safest place for it. Usually babies come out well however. Sometimes fathers hover around wanting to see what's going on. They are often told to sit back down at in the chair they were placed in, so they don't get in the way. When the paediatrician is happy he/she will wrap the baby up and leave. The midwife may then decide to weigh the baby, give it vitamin K and put labels on. Several minutes have now elapsed; the mother is generally craning her head round to see what's going on and is everything all right? When the midwife has finished, she will re-wrap baby up well in towels and blankets and then when SHE is ready, give the baby to it's mother to hold. Sometimes also whilst the woman is being sutured or whatever, the father and the baby are taken out of the operating theatre and have to wait a short while to be reunited with the woman in a recovery/post natal ward.

When will this brutal and controlling ritual stop? As it's so easy to do so! I do it everytime I go into an operating theatre with a woman. We insist on skin to skin. It just requires some cooperation with theatre staff, making room on a woman's upper chest between electrodes and lying a baby with warm towels and hat on. If the woman doesn't want to, then the father can. Weighing and vitamin K can wait. Baby can have labels put on easily in any position. The family can stay together at all times.

These first few minutes after birth are so important to a mother - they can NEVER be re lived.

So as professionals, it is our duty to stop 'taking the baby' and ensure it's the baby's mother who enjoys those first few minutes. It's really not rocket science! Just kind, thoughtful and humane care to a family who especially need it during a heightened stress situation.

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