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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Babies are such a sweet and nice way to start people.

Labor does end. Even when it seems like it won’t. When with every contraction you feel makes you wish (and maybe beg) for it to end, you are almost done.

Listen to your body.

Your body may be telling you things in a quiet way; if you are writhing around your body may be telling you to move. It may be telling you that you need to move to help your baby get into the best position to be born.

Do not feel restricted to laboring and delivering on your back- anatomically speaking this is probably the worst way to deliver. If you have an epidural or this feels best to labor and birth this way- by all means do so. This is your body. Your birth.

If you are having a natural birth your body will tell you when to push. No counting necessary. This is one reason it is helpful to have practitioners who are supportive of your birth plan- directed pushing in a mother can result in tearing, swelling, and feeling discouraged.

After baby is born he or she should be put on your chest- if medically possible. This is important for a few reasons:

  • A mother’s breasts and chest actually change temperature to help regulate her baby’s temperature
  • A mother instinctively put her hands on her baby this rubs in any remaining vernix which is helpful for skin.
  • A mother’s hands also stimulate the baby to breath.
  • A mother’s colostrum has the same scent as amniotic fluid. The familiarity is comforting to your baby.
  • This skin to skin contact has been shown to help facilitated infant/bonding.
  • Immediate skin to skin contact fosters the development of a breastfeeding relationship.
  • Skin to skin contact is especially important in sick or premature infants.

March of Dimes and World Health Organization studies have shown that kangaroo care in preterm or sick infants can drastically improve outcomes.

Skin to skin contact after birth means that the infant, clothed only in a diaper should be laid on mother bare chest and covered with a blanket if needed for warmth. This close contact is one of the best things for the baby and mother.

I used cloth diapers as they also added warmth and softness that cannot be found in disposable diapers. Having my newborn exposed to as few harmful chemicals as possible was terribly important to me.

He may look odd after delivery!

Your baby may look a little funny immediately following delivery. It is common for a new baby to be reddish or even bluish or purplish when born- they pink up pretty quick after birth though. If your baby was born vaginally he may have had a pretty tight squeeze down through the birth canal.

He or she may have some bruising or have an ear folded over or even a cone head- this will all correct itself. If your baby was delivered by forceps or with vacuum assistance he may have marks from the forceps or the vacuum. This too will heal.

If your baby was premature, she may be very wrinkly, have lanugo (fine hair over her body), or have thick vernix. As she grows and gains weight she will fill out.

After delivery

Ideally, your baby should be placed on your chest immediately after birth. Often he or she will start to root around for your breast. The smell of colostrum is similar to that of the amniotic fluid he has been living in. This familiarity is comforting.

He is also drawn to dark and light contrasts, Your nipple and areola are just the same kind of contrast that she is drawn to. The initial suckling will stimulate prolactin production and oxytocin production. This also helps stimulate the expulsion of the placenta and the return of the uterus to pre-pregnancy size.

Sometimes babies have a hard time latching, especially if you had narcotic pain relief. Give them a little time. Being born is hard work (as is having a baby). Keep your baby at the breast as much as possible.

If you are still having difficulties ask your nurse for help, see if your hospital has a lactation consultant on staff. If not, find one. You can also get in touch with the local La Leche League.

Christobel is a loving grandmother. She believes there may be nothing cuter than adorable babies in diapers catching a snooze on mama. London is Christobel’s home but she reaches an audience worldwide by using the internet to publish blogs and product reviews.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to know what to expect after childbirth.

Image courtesy of syn|cretic via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.