To my surprise, these science-backed tips that help mama and baby in the delivery room have to be requested in today’s health care system; they are not assumed protocol for hospital births. In light of my gratitude for other mamas enlightening me, I’m passing it forward to other mamas to consider as well.
- Sedentary delivery: Best way for baby to arrive is with mommy on her back, right? For some women, this is comfortable and it works. For others, it’s not – yet hospitals still encourage women to lie on their backs because 1) it is how they were trained and 2) it is more convenient for them. Women who feel the need to change position are more than entitled to do so – science proves that delivering in upright positions is safer and more effective. It physically opens your pelvic region and goes with gravity rather than against, bringing your baby down with much less of a fight.
- Cut the cord: … Actually, wait! Despite plenty of proven evidence that immediately cutting the umbilical cord after birth is an unnecessary intervention, “delayed cord clamping” is still not the standard across the board. Opting to wait even just a few minutes or until it stops pulsating delivers vital nutrients to newborn.
- Baby’s first bath: If you let the efficient scheduling of hospital staff take over, your newborn will get a bath within the first few hours. Yet, your baby is not born dirty, and more importantly, your baby is covered in a purposeful wax coating called vernix caseosa that should not be washed off. Vernix is a powerful moisturizer for your baby’s skin that also protects against infections. It contains antimicrobial proteins that fight against group B strep, E. coli and other perinatal pathogens. Some mamas delay 24 hours for the first bath, others go a whole week.
- Interrupting the “Golden Hour”: Immediate and uninterrupted bonding with your baby in the first hour after birth is something that often has to be protected. Our fast-paced society has made it the norm to take baby away for cleaning, measuring, weighing and testing. The benefits of having a truly undisturbed first hour are impressive. For one, your baby will instinctively initiate the first latch to breastfeed. When this happens, the placenta expels more quickly and the risk of postpartum hemorrhage goes down. Not breastfeeding? The list of benefits goes on including baby’s ability to better regulate body temperature.
- Pass on the pacifier: Unless you request otherwise, nursing staff may automatically give your newborn a pacifier. Why is this even something to potentially skip? If you are going to breastfeed, it is recommended to wait to introduce one. When baby latches to your breast, it encourages your milk supply to regulate to where it needs to be. When a pacifier replaces your breast and interrupts those otherwise frequent feedings, it can cause supply issues, nipple confusion, among other things.
- None of these may apply: Certain things may arise that go against these tips, such as a health concern that requires interrupting that golden hour rightfully so, or maybe you just feel your instinct pulling you a different route. That’s fine too. But that’s perhaps the biggest takeaway for me – that I actually have a say in the immediate care of my newborn on things I assumed had to be done one particular way. They don’t!