The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth - For the Best Birth Possible!

Here are some things I get a lot of questions about.....
.......Keep in mind that I am NOT a midwife, OB, or pediatrician, so ask your health care provider any medical questions you have!  (And if the questions you have are not medical ones, but actually parenting questions, your HCP is no better equipped to answer those than another parent!)

Google the subject, check the recommended books and websites, ask parents whose parenting style makes sense to you and whose kids are doing well, and come to your own conclusions.  

 Remember, there's no harm in changing your mind....your baby and you are on a learning curve!
That said, to the best of my knowledge......

Umbilical cords: 

Unless a baby is in dire straits when born, the cord should be left alone until it's stopped pulsing.  The cord is carrying oxygenated blood. The only reason that we humans breathe is to oxygenate our blood, so if the cord is cut quickly, the baby HAS to breathe well immediately.  Cut him some slack.  Let the cord finish its job.

Allowing the cord to finish transferring all the baby's ox'd blood:   a)gives the baby time to ease into breathing without it being a matter of life or death,
b) ensures the baby gets all of his blood, so he's less likely to be anemic, AND less likely to be jaundiced
c) lets the blood circulate back to the mother for metabolizing drugs (especially epidurals or Pitocin), and 
d) keeps the baby close to mother.   
If you cut the cord before it finishes pulsing, you risk the baby being cheated of as much as 1/3 of his blood.  It's also harder for his heart to work properly when he's --so to speak -- down a quart.  
Curious about blood volume?  A typical newborn has 1 cup of blood.   Officially, that's 269.89 mL for a 7 pounder, 308.44 mL for an 8, and 347 for a 9 pounder.

Right now there is some excellent data being gathered on this topic at Women & Infants by several of my colleagues in the RI Birth Network.  Sometimes it takes a lot of research to change hospital protocols -- even when the proof is ancient!  Just remember this:  white and flat.  That'swhen they should cut it.

Diaper Rash:

Persistent diaper rash may actually be thrush;  if there are white patches inside your baby's mouth or if you have sore or shiny nipples, then have the doctor check for thrush (a yeast infection). It could also be contact dermatitis or eczema, but that's less likely.  

Otherwise, diaper rash is generally caused by something irritating the baby's bottom.  That can be urine (especially if concentrated because of dehydration), detergent, or an allergy.  The simplest treatment is to rinse with water, pat dry (never rub dry when the skin's irritated), gently smoothe some breastmilk onto the skin, and let the baby be diaper-less for a few hours.  Best yet in warm weather:  get that kid's bare bottom into the sunshine and fresh air.  
If the rash doesn't go away after trying this, then consider an ointment that soothes the irritation and protects the skin as it heals. There are several on the market.  Avoid anything with petroleum products or scent.

Co-sleeping:

It's great.  It's normal for our species.  It increases a mother's milk supply.  It helps parents AND babies be calm and get more sleep.  It's safe.
When should you NOT co-sleep?  When you're drunk, drugged, enormously obese, use a pillow top mattress or water bed, or would put the baby between you and the wall.
Otherwise, it's great.  See Dr. Paul Fleiss's recent book, Sweet Dreams, or The Family Bed, by Tine Thevenin which, though published about 30 years ago, is still relevant.
Oh -- and don't tell anyone you're co-sleeping, except other tired parents.  You'll only get aggravation from family members, co-workers, friends, et al, and it's not their business anyway.  What goes on in ANY bedroom, STAYS in the bedroom.

Vaccinations:

Read up on the Center for Disease Control's recommended vaccine schedule.  More and more experts think there are too many shots in too short a time now.  Many pediatricians are fine with the compromise recommended by Dr. Robert Sears:  a different schedule that doesn't burden babies' bodies with so many toxins at once, but still gets all the vaccinations done.  Other people are fine with some vaccines, but not others.  There's a huge range of response to this topic, from the CDC to Neil Z. Miller.  There are lots of websites.  You may be startled at how passionate people are about your choice.  Remind yourself (and them!) that you are making the best choice you can for your child.  

Don't let anyone rush or bully you - in either direction!  You should know that an unvaccinated child is definitely allowed in any public school (so don't let misinformation on that point push you to vaccinate.) 
 Your children must count on you -- no one else -- to research this topic and make a careful and wise decision.  
If you can't decide, haven't had time to learn enough, or disagree with your partner, remember:  You can delay, but you can't take back a vaccine.  There is no problem with asking for more information or simply stating that you need more time to consider the question.  Delaying is not declining.
Once you decide, do yourself a favor:  don't second-guess yourself.  When the next baby is on the way, revisit the research to see whether you should change your mind.  Each child deserves the best we can give at that moment, and changing your mind based on new research does not mean that you were wrong before;  it means you are sincerely trying to make the best decisions you can.

Siblings at Birth:

Children who have had an appropriate amount of preparation are fine at a birth.  Why shouldn't a family be a family from the moment of birth?  It's a very good idea to have another adult at the birth who's there to take care of the child.  Many children find labor boring, but birth exciting, once the baby's nearly out.  Anecdotal evidence (including my own births) suggests that having your children at the birth may decrease potential sibling rivalry.  For many kids, the most upsetting thing about a sibling's birth is that mommy and daddy were away at the hospital a long time.  It's not about the child and baby;  it's about the child's separation from his or her parents. There are some good books out, and you can bring your child to Bradley class with you sometimes!  I have some excellent books that you're welcome to borrow.

Whom to have at your birth:
ONLY who you want!!  The fewer people, the better, in most cases.  Don't convince yourself that you can tolerate so-and-so.  For birth to work well, you need privacy and intimacy.  If the person you're considering inviting isn't someone you'd let see you nude, why would you want him or her at your labor?  You will almost certainly be naked and not your usual self!  For labor to go well, a mom needs to be surrounded by trust, love and respect.  If you want to have a friend or family member with you at the birth, you're welcome to bring an extra person to some classes with you.

Now, a doula -- that's something else.  If there's anyway you can afford to hire one, DO IT.  That's some of the best spent money you can imagine.  A doula can take a lot of the "gotta-know-it-all" pressure off a partner, and provides something of a safe enclosure around the laboring woman.  Besides, doulas know a LOT about positioning, local birth practices, and how to ease discomfort and move labor along.  Other than birthing classes, hiring a doula is the best thing you can do for your birth.  Forget the matchy-matchy nursery decor.  Buy a second-hand stroller.  Take all the hand-me-downs you can get.  Save up, and hire a doula.  Statistically, having a doula cuts the C-section rate in half!  Better than YOU being cut in half!  And, yes, I am a doula, certified with the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth.  And, no, I don't expect you to hire me.  :)

Other topics I'll get to soon:
What breastmilk cures:
ear infectitons, athlete's foot fungus, pink eye, sore nipples

Nursing while pregnant
isn't for everyone -- sometimes the hormones supporting a pregnancy in the first trimester make nipples very sensitive and mothers very antsy.......however, it's not dangerous, and it's often quite nice once you get past the first 2-3 months.  This naturally leads to............

Tandem nursing:
which is almost always a joy!  sometimes annoying, but you don't nurse an older child every time you're nursing a newborn!

For support and suggestions from other mothers who have navigated the same waters you're sailing, come to some La Leche League meetings!

Family power struggles

Grandparents

"When you were little....."

Making sense of research
See Cochrane Collaboration and Childbirth Connection for some excellent resources.

Asking the right questions to get the right answers
Don't ask a potential pediatrician, "Do you support breastfeeding?"  Of course he'll say yes!  Ask instead, "How many of your patients nurse beyond 2 or 3 years?"  His face will give you a more truthful answer than his words.

How to find a wealthy spouse  (just seeing if you were actually reading this far!)


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