Our immediate post-birth experience was wonderful. I'm still so touched and grateful for the incredibly loving care that Faye and I received. One of the benefits of doing the birth without any drugs was that I felt completely alert, energized, and ecstatic. I felt completely in the present moment, talking to my baby girl and welcoming her into the world. "We are so happy you're here baby girl. We did it! You did such a good job sweetie. Mommy loves you so much."
|Listening to her heart and breathing|
|Smiles from our amazing midwife, Amy|
Faye didn't leave my chest for more than two hours. They lifted her above me briefly to help clear some fluid from her mouth and lungs. Every action was explained to me and to the baby. They would talk to her and tell her what they were going to do and why. I loved that. Each task was done with such loving care and infinite patience. Nothing felt rushed or robotic.
|Clearing fluid from her lungs|
We allowed Faye to self latch and start breastfeeding. It was so fun (and funny) to watch. It took her about a half hour to really get latched and start drinking. During that thirty minutes she would bob her head and kick her legs to get repositioned and find the boob. Then she would get tired and just start sucking on her hand for awhile before getting serious again. (More information on the benefits of baby-led latch found here.)
|Holding Dad's hand while trying to latch|
After birthing the placenta, I lost a fair bit of blood. Unfortunately, that just happens sometimes and there isn't a real reason or way to avoid it. I actually had no knowledge of this in the moment. It didn't hurt or bother me. I was talking to Jeff, my sister, my friend Renee, the midwives, and baby Faye. Faye was breastfeeding and I felt like a million bucks :) They put the placenta in a bowl right next to me so that Faye could get all the cord blood until it stopped pulsating. I really recommend insisting on delayed cord clamping if you birth in a hospital setting, there is solid research showing the benefits. Studies have shown that infants who have delayed cord clamping end up with a whopping 32% more blood volume than infants who have immediate cord clamping – without any increased risk of problems. (More info here.)
When the bleeding stopped, Amy determined that I had a second degree tear from the birth. She began stitching me up. This was slightly uncomfortable, but truly nothing compared to childbirth (ha!) so I was still able to interact during this time. She really took her time and was incredibly meticulous--something I truly appreciate.
About two hours post-birth, it was finally time to cut the cord and start the newborn examination. Jeff wasn't interested in cutting the cord, and neither was I. My sister did it and she also helped gently clean up Faye's skin. This was the first time Faye left my arms. She was weighed, measured, checked for symmetry, step reflex, and more.
|Little feet while getting weighed|
|Checking her step reflex|
|Getting cleaned up by Aunt Beth|
When she finished her newborn check, it was time for skin-to-skin with daddy. It was also time for me to go pee. My midwives helped me sit up, and they told me that I lost a fair bit of blood when the placenta separated, so I might feel woozy. Once I adjusted to sitting upright, I stood up with their help. Immediately I felt ringing in my ears and had to lay back down with my feet up for a bit. We tried again awhile later and I successfully made it to the bathroom, but still felt very dizzy. I told them I couldn't make it back to the bed and asked to lie down on the bathroom floor. We agreed on a compromise that involved me crawling on all fours back to bed. I wish I had a picture of that, I bet it was pretty funny. Once I got back to bed, they offered me an IV of fluids to help me recover faster from the blood loss. I accepted and got setup with a bed side IV, which went for about 30 minutes. During that time, the midwives cleaned up the whole house and took down the birth tub.
|Daddy skin-to-skin time|
At 4:30am, they tucked us into bed and left. They returned Saturday morning (roughly 24 hours later) for our first postpartum visit. They checked to see how I was healing, they weighed Faye, and asked lots of questions about breastfeeding, etc. In our discussion, they gave me a few tips about getting a great latch which proved to be so helpful (and the reason I never ended up with crazy sore nipples!) We reminisced about the birth and what an amazing experience it was.
|All tucked into bed for our first "night" sleep (at 4:30am)|
Three days later, they returned for another visit to check on me and do Faye's PKU heel prick test. They weighed Faye again and she was already back to her birth weight--a great sign that she was eating well. I was dealing with some armpit swelling and breast engorgement. The midwives gave me a couple homeopathic remedies and the problem cleared up within two days. I really cannot emphasize enough how amazing those two home visits were. There is so much self-care that needs to happen after childbirth and it's wonderful to have the support and care of knowledgeable healthcare providers in your own home. You don't have to change out of pajamas or deal with transporting the baby--it's fantastic. It also meant that we were able to nip problems in the bud and proactively discuss any potential issues. In standard OB care, you don't see your doctor once you leave the hospital until 6 weeks postpartum!
I'm so grateful to our amazing birth team for helping us achieve the birth we wanted and ushering us into parenthood in such a graceful way.
Read about our decision to use midwives and have a home birth here.