250 lovely business cards arrived from Vista Prints this morning. I feel very pleased…very Adult actually. What do you think of the design? I thought it had a nice “birthy” feel to it without being over the top or too scary 🙂
I gave a brief overview of my first doula client’s birth HERE. It’s taken me a while, but I finally have wrapped my head around a few of the things that bothered me about her birth. Of course, visiting her postnatally has helped her tremendously, but I can’t help but feel the burden of her birth on MY shoulders. It’s not as though I could have done anything differently to get her through the 37 grueling hours of labor withOUT a C-section. Once she entered that hospital with broken waters but NO contractions, she became a medical patient sick with childbirth. Once she “failed to progress”, she was a shoo-in for surgery.
Anyway, in this post, I wanted to give an update as to my client’s condition. Shortly after the birth of her son, she complained of shortness of breath and chest pain. After being ignored for quite some time, she was finally sent for a scan that showed fluid around her lungs. An EKG later diagnosed her with Congestive Heart Failure. (Basically, that her heart had expanded to a level that would not allow it to retract like a normal heart…in other words, her heart is not able to pump like normal.) Needless to say, she was rushed to the Heart Tower of the hospital where she was completely separated from her newborn (who remained in NICU) for a full week. After a week, her baby was finally released from NICU and reunited with her in the heart tower. 2.5 weeks AFTER her birth, my client was released from the hospital with instructions to limit her physical activity to only lifting her baby. A few days later, she ended up in the ER due to pain and numbness in her arms and left leg. The doctors gave her medicine to the relieve the pain, and sent her home after a brief hospital stay with no diagnosis. Today, she begins follow up visits with her team of 12 doctors who are working to treat her various conditions.
I visited her a few days ago at her request, and I was shocked at how frail and frustruated she appeared. It’s one thing to have a hard labor and birth, but quite another to deal with additional medical emergencies while remaining the sole caretaker to a newborn! The hard part though was when she began to ask me questions…staring at me eagerly as though I could offer some valid reason as to why her birth has turned into this nightmare. We discussed the various stages of her labor and the progression of interventions leading up to the C-section. When she told me that she had been told by the doctors that she could never go through childbirth again as a result of her heart condition, she started to cry. This is her birth…this is her ONLY birth.
As a doula, my role is to support her…as a WOMAN it is my role….and most especially, as the person who has seen her in that most primal state of childbirth. I helped her with her baby for a few hours, and we talked until she was confident in herself once again…confident that, for her, she had made all the correct decisions (the ones that were allowed) with regards to her birth. She is now satisfied….I am the one left with questions.
Questions such as…why did your water break in the first place? Why did you ever go to the hospital? Why did you let them give you pitocin? Why did you let them drug you to high heaven? Why did you never question the doctors’ decisions regarding YOUR body? AND, most importantly, why are you STILL complacent with those decisions?!!!
I recently attended a local meeting of The Birth Network that focused on the benefits of delayed cord clamping. I found the talk to be facinating…particularly because of the amazing scientific data that confirms what natural birthing proponents have been suggesting for years: delaying clamping of the umbilical cord by up to 3 min. introduces numerous long term benefits for the newborn.
1). Higher iron/hemoglobin levels. (how I understand it)
Red blood cells carry the necessary oxygen throughout our body. One of their necessary components is hemoglobin which is the binding agent for the oxygen carried by the red blood cells. In order to function properly, hemoglobin requires iron. If our body is low in iron, then the hemoglobin levels drop causing the sluggishness known as Anemia. In newborns who experience delayed cord clamping, boosted levels of iron and hemoglobin have been noticed as late as 6 months following birth.
2). Safety Net when Fetal hemoglobin converts to Adult hemoglobin. (Again, as I understand it.)
Between 10-12 weeks of age, the newborn experiences a drop in iron and hemoglobin content due to the conversion of fetal hemoglobin over to adult hemoglobin. During this process infants are susceptible to Anemia. However, several studies have illustrated that those infants who’s cords are clamped after a delay of up to 3 min. actually sail through this time period with a minimal drop in hemoglobin/iron levels. Basically they have a ‘buffer zone’ created thanks to delayed clamping of the cord.
This same buffer zone assists breastfed babies in maintaining a proper iron level. In one study of infants who were followed until 6 months of life, babies who were exclusively breastfed and experienced delayed cord clamping still maintained higher levels of iron/hemoglobin than their formula fed counterparts who had their umbilical cords cut immediately. (Remember, formual contains iron supplement while breastmilk contains a very low amount of iron.)
3). Easier Transition from the Womb.
There are no studies on this particular benefit as it’s really an impossible thing to know for sure, but one can logically reach this conclusion. As long as the cord is pulsing and uncut, the newborn is receiving oxygenated blood and “breathing” is unnecessary for survival. In other words, if the cord remains uncut, then there is no cause for worry if the baby does not take in a breath until after the cord has stopped pulsing. The minute the cord is cut, the baby MUST breathe on its own to survive. Typically, the cord is cut immediately which is classified as the first 10 sec. or less of life outside of the womb causing an abrupt transition to “breathing”. Can’t you just imagine how stressful this must be to a poor little newborn?! Particularly if there is NO NECESSARY REASON for the immediate clamping of the cord! As one O.B. textbook accurately states, ” [The Clamping of the cord] should be based on convenience…”.
I can’t remember if Kaius’ cord was clamped immediately, or if the midwife delayed it, but I have a feeling that it was clamped immediately. I am RH-, and we didn’t know if that would cause issues or not. I do remember it being a preference of mine, but since we never wrote down a birth plan, there was no real way for the midwife to even KNOW that. I do remember that there was a second or two when the midwife and nurse seemed to really want Kaius to cry…perhaps that was when his cord was clamped…
I’d love to hear your thoughts on clamping the umbilical cord. Did you have a preference when your baby was born? Do you have a preference now?