This is Day 78 of the Green in 365 series!
This is a long post, but bear with me because I think it’s a really important topic to cover as we begin talking about green and natural baby and child care! No better place to start then when our sweet babies are first born!
Last week I got to be with my younger sister at the hospital as she gave birth to her first baby, a healthy baby boy! She labored and birthed without medication and I was so proud of her! It was amazing to get to be a part of the miracle of birth, this time as an observer instead of an active participant!
But while spending time with her and my new nephew in the hours after his birth, I was reminded of one of the main reasons that we chose to have our third baby at home. Often, the staff at the hospital will do things to you and your brand new baby without your explicit knowledge or consent.
For example, about an hour after his birth, as my sister was holding her son in the hospital bed, he peed on her. The nurse took him to change him and asked if it was a good time to do his footprints. My sister agreed. The nurse then placed the baby on the warming table and left the room. I assume to get the necessary supplies, but the baby was left there alone, and of course, started crying.
My sister and I looked at each other, kind of bewildered, like, ‘Why would she take the baby and then just leave him there on the warming table all alone?‘ Couldn’t my sister have held him until the nurse came back and was ready? I placed my hand on the baby’s chest to comfort him, but when the nurse returned she said, “Oh, it’s good for the baby to cry, it gets their lungs all cleared out.” I’m not sure if that’s an old wives tale or not, but I think it’s the mother’s place to decide whether her brand new baby should be left to cry or not.
Then a couple minutes later, again, we were watching the nurse as she got ready to measure the length of the baby, and all of the sudden she picks the baby up by his ankles and holds him upside-down to measure him! I have never seen a nurse measure a baby in that way, and it was kind of shocking to us all – it was just for a second, but she was hanging the baby upside-down!
These are just a few little examples, and really nothing major or life-threatening, but still, it felt like the attitude of the hospital staff was, “I’m in charge. I know better than you, and I’ll just do whatever I want with this baby.” Almost like the mother and family aren’t standing right there watching!
And the reality is, that often when you have a hospital birth, there are things done to your baby that you may not even realize, or be aware of. You’ve just given birth and are exhausted, and you’re stuck in the hospital bed and not with your baby as they examine him or take him to the nursery.
It’s important for you to know that you absolutely do have a say in what happens to your baby in those hours right after birth. If you’re pregnant, be sure to educate yourself about your hospital’s standard newborn procedures before you go into labor, so that you can add your preferences to your birth plan, and let your birth team know, so they can help to advocate for you and your baby with the hospital staff.
You’re not trying to be difficult, but this is your newborn baby, and you have the right to decide how his first few precious hours and days of life are spent, not the hospital staff.
5 Standard Newborn Procedures You Can Refuse
1. Eye Ointment
We’ve all seen the pictures of newborns with their eyes smeared shut with some clear goupy stuff. Well, that goupy stuff is erythromycin ophthalmic ointment, an antibacterial used to protect babies from an infection which in rare cases can cause blindness. However, this type of infection is only caused by a mother with chlamydia or gonorrhea.
If you have been tested for STDs and know there is no risk that you have either chlamydia or gonorrhea there is no reason your new baby needs to be treated with erythromycin ophthalmic ointment. Also, even if your baby does develop the infection, they are easily treated today with antibiotics which prevent blindness. Read more
2. Vitamin K Shot
Vitamin K is given routinely as a shot to newborns in order to prevent a very rare, but serious, bleeding disorder. New babies are born with lowered levels of Vitamin K which is necessary for normal blood clotting. Some people argue that because basically all babies are born with lowered levels of Vitamin K, there must be a good biological reason for it, and they also believe there may be serious side effects of injecting a new baby with high levels of Vitamin K, and refuse the shot for that reason.
Others believe it is cruel to give a newborn baby a painful shot when they have just been through the trauma of birth. If you’d like to avoid the shot, but still give your baby the blood clotting protection of Vitamin K, you can request an oral dose that is an effective alternative. Read more
3. Hepatitas B vaccine
Many parents don’t know that when the nurse takes the baby to the nursery for “routine procedures” that one of those procudures is to give them a vaccine for a sexually transmitted, or blood transmitted, disease, Hepatitis B. I don’t want to get into a discussion about whether we should vaccinate our children or not, but I have no idea why the medical establishment says it is okay to give brand newborn babies this vaccine, for a disease they have almost no chance of getting, when they are so young and their immune systems are so vulnerable. You can request that your new baby does not receive this routine vaccination right after birth! Read More
4. First Bath
We go to great lengths to make sure we only put the purest and safest products on our new baby once we bring them home from the hospital, but what about their first bath at the hospital? To begin with, if your hospital normally does the baby’s first bath in the nursery, you can, of course, request that it be done in the room with you. You can also request to help with the bath, instead of just leaving it up to the nurse, and you can bring in your own safe and natural baby shampoo and soap for your baby to be bathed with.
Another option is to skip the first bath all together. Babies are born with a protective covering on their skin, vernix, that has been shown to be very beneficial to the baby, including immune boosting properties similar to those found in breast milk, as well as providing protection and hydration for a new baby’s delicate skin. At the very least, you may want to delay the bath 24 hours to allow the vernix to absorb into the baby’s skin. Read More
5. Time in the nursery
Finally, your baby does not have to spend any time away from you in the nursery if you don’t want them to. I remember after my daughter was born and I had been awake for 24 hours that in my exhaustion I sent her with the nurse to the nursery. Then my husband and I looked at each other with such a strange feeling because we had just sent our baby away and neither of us were with her. They brought her back just over an hour later, not even enough time for me to sleep, with a bow in her hair and I wondered what else had happened to her while she was away from us. That was precious time in her first hours of life that I will never be able to get back.
If there are procedures to which you have consented that need to happen while you’re at the hospital, you can request that they be done in the room with you, while your baby is with you, so that your new baby never has to leave your side in it’s first few hours and days of life. If your baby is getting a shot, or the heel prick to complete the newborn lab test, the nurse can do that while you are nursing your babe to help comfort them and ease the pain.
The hours after your new baby is born are so, so precious and yet can also often be overwhelming. Things can move quickly and sometimes without your understanding of what is happening to your new baby. If you are planning to give birth in a hospital it’s important for you to make sure you understand the hospital’s policies for newborns so that you can make the best informed decision regarding the care of your newborn baby.
Did you refuse any standard procedures when your new baby was born? Did you meet resistance from the hospital staff or were they accommodating?
Find all the Green in 365 posts.
*Disclaimer: Please remember I am not a doctor, and this post should not be taken as medical advice. Please do the research on these issues and decide for yourself what is best for you and your family.
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