Newborn Standard Hospital Practices You Should Think About

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There are so many awesome topics related to pregnancy, labor, and giving birth. Someday I’ll do another series which is more focused on pregnancy and natural birth. I could spend time talking about writing a birth plan. I definitely would suggest you do it if you haven’t. Here are two interactive birth plans you can fill out to compose your own birth plan:

The main benefit to writing a birth plan is that by do so you will be more prepared to either tell the nursing staff what you want done, or just be fine in knowing what is standard practice. Since this is a series on Preparing to be New Mom, I’m going to focus on what the standard practices are once the baby is born, not what is done during labor.

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Newborn Standard Hospital Practices You Should Think About

Once the baby is born, things seem to start moving so quickly. If you haven’t already thought about these things, you could be just deferring to the hospital’s standard practices for newborns. Even though I gave birth at a birth center, I wanted to be aware of the standard practices of hospitals just in case I was transferred.

1) Delayed Cord Clamping – Some parents prefer that the cord not be cut until after it has stopped pulsating so that the baby receives all of the blood from the placenta. This also allows the baby to receive more iron. This is important because your baby uses that iron to form red blood cells, build muscle, and develop his brain cells. Breastmilk is low in iron (although the babies are very efficient in absorbing it), so after this initial transfer, the baby will not receive a significan source of iron again until they start eating solid foods (which is not recommended until 6 months). Want more information? Here is a great article.

2) Cord Cutting – If you want the Dad, or someone other than the doctor/midwife to cut the cord, think about that ahead of time and notify the nursing staff right before it’s time.

3) Bathing Baby – There are studies done that suggest the baby’s first bath should be delayed until at least 2-hours after birth. There are several reasons:

  • The vernix (the cottage cheesy looking substance) moisturizes the baby’s skin.
  • The vernix needs time to be absorbed into the baby’s skin.
  • A study done revealed that a number of immune substances were present in both the amniotic fuid and vernix samples. It was also shown that these substances are effective at deterring the growth of group B Step, K. pneumoniae, L. monocytogenes, C. albicans and E. coli. (source)
  • Whisking a baby off to a bath is bad for maintaining the baby’s temperature.
  • Taking the baby away from mom early on hinders breastfeeding. It messes with the whole sequence of newborn behaviors: crawling to the breast, latching on, and becoming familiar with the smell of mom (source).

4) Antibiotic Eye Ointment – In the 1800s about 10% of newborns in Europe developed a type of pink eye that cause blindness in 3% of infants who were affected. So they started routinely giving newborns eye ointment. We now know that the infections were caused by the mother having a sexually transmitted infection. Here is an article that goes into depth on this topic.1235310_529668873774200_811778310_n

5) Vitamin K – These are given to newborns to prevent the rare risk of bleeding n the brain due to a newborn’s low vitamin K levels. This is a rare risk, but bleeding can cause permanent brain damage and may not be noticed until after the damage has been done. However, there are some risks involved with giving the shot, but you can ask for it to be given orally (according to this article).

6) First Hep B Shot – you can ask for this to be given later. Or just not given at all.

7) PKU Testing (after 24 hours) – This is just a heel prick to test the baby’s blood for a number of metabolic disorders, inching PKU. Many of these disorders are treatable if caught at an early age.

For all of these standard practices, if you chose to accept all of them, then think about if you want to delay some of these things until after the mother and baby have spent some skin to skin time together. And the newborn has had a chance to at least try to latch on and start breastfeeding.

Whether or not you have had a sonogram to determine the sex of the baby, take time (before he is born) to think about if you will or will not circumcise him.

Also, some things to mention in your birth plan:

Specify that you want your baby exclusively breastfed (i.e. nursing staff not to offer formula or a bottle to the newborn). You may want to just say,

Do not offer without my consent:

  • formula
  • pacifiers
  • any artificial nipples
  • sugar water

Other Must-Reads on This Topic:

10 Responses to Pressure to Consent

90 Seconds Could Change Your Baby’s Life

More on Delayed Cord Clamping

Food and Drink During Labor

Why You Should Drop your Newborn’s Hat

Women Need Three Kinds of Knowing to give birth