Before Aviya was born, I put together a list of books to help prepare Ameli for the whole home birth and childbirth thing. This list has increasingly grown and grown, as I’ve found new books to add to our resources, which I now often loan out to friends about to have their second babies. Separate to the issue of the actual birth, however, is that of adding to the family, as this is something children – especially first or only children – aren’t really prepared for. While Ameli was lovely with her sister, I think it came as a bit of a shock to her when she didn’t leave when the rest of the family went back home! As such, I’ve now separated the two lists, so that there’s a great resource for those who need to help prepare siblings for the arrival of a new baby, irrespective of the manner or place of birth.
I hope you find it useful!
The book opens with mother, father, older sibling (which could pass as a boy or a girl) and baby in bed. Baby is breastfeeding and daddy is playing with the older sibling.
Later you see baby nursing again while OS eats a plate of finger foods, and on the next page, baby is in a sling while OS walks, with the words ‘I love walking. When will Baby walk like me?’ below it, so there are attachment parenting themes throughout, but it’s not alienating – baby is also carried in a bucket car seat, and cries during a nappy change before being put into a Moses Basket to sleep.
It’s a very simple book, and it doesn’t deal with the birth of the baby at all, but only with there being another baby.
I think it can be used as quite a useful tool later on too – reminding Ameli to put her own jumper on, like the girl in the book, while Mama dresses the baby, and so on. I also like the fact that though I think it’s obviously a girl on the cover, which works in our favour, you could get away with it being a brother, I think.
I Love You, Alfie Cub is a stunningly illustrated book about a little fox cub, Alfie, whose mama has a new litter of pups – twin girls. Mama Fox explains that the twins will take up a lot of her time and need a lot of love and care. Alfie is kind of excited about having new play mates, but by the end of the first day, they haven’t even grown yet! (I so relate to this. Ameli’s first question about her sister was ‘Can it walk? – at about 2 minutes old!)
Alfie’s Mama is tired, and falls asleep without reading him stories. She doesn’t play with him as much, and she is always busy with the twins. He fears that she has run out of love for him, so he spends the day looking high and low for love. A friendly frog reminds him that he still has love, so he can share his love with his mother. Alfie has an idea and sets about making a play space for his sisters.
The last few pages of this book make my eyes well up with tears. Seriously, I get so emotional. Alfie realises that his mother loves him, and she reminds him that she will never run out of love for him.
I Love You, Alfie Cub is so incredibly beautiful, it’s one of my favourites, it’s sweet, and it lays the foundation for older siblings to say that just because Mama is a bit busy right now does not mean that she doesn’t love or has replaced them.
There are a lot of subtle things in this book, like the toddlers bed pushed up next to the parents’ for an authentic family bed. In the explanation of what life with a new baby will be like, there’s a lot of inclusive language, like “You can come cuddle with us and meet your sister” or “Some days we could all nap together”.
There’s a mention and image of tandem feeding, although it’s not called that, folding up reusable nappies (called diapers in the book) and both baby and toddler are rear facing in their car seats. There’s even a picture of Mama wearing the baby and big brother “wearing” his baby, and another of daddy wearing the toddler in a back carry with Mama carrying baby in a ring sling.
It would be great if it were easily found in the UK, but I’d go so far as to say it was it’s worth importing.
The Magic Basket opens with Amy crying on her bed because she doesn’t want to become a big sister. Her mother brings her a piece of cloth, which opens up into a blue magic basket. Amy puts her hand in the basket, and out comes a feeling – curious – who guides her through how to explore her feelings. Being curious he asks her what she was doing when her mother came in, and next thing you know, another feeling – sad – comes into play. Curious and Sad help explore her feelings of worry about why her parents want another child, and help her realise that maybe they’re not trying to replace her, but ‘add to’ her. It’s a really lovely message, actually, and the transformation that comes from realisation and understanding is very sweet.
I asked my Facebook followers for their recommendations of books, since I can’t possibly buy them all. Here’s what they recommended:
What’s Inside Your Tummy, Mummy? – Abby Cocovini
– This book looks amazing. It’s the perfect book for introducing a young child to to the concept of where babies come from and how they grow. This is a great book to share and discuss all the changes going on inside ‘mummy’s tummy’.
Every month a new picture shows how big baby is and how far along a timeline (featured at the foot of each spread) baby has moved. The real attractiion of the book is the ‘life-size’ nature of the drawings, giving mother and child a fantastic opportunity to really explore what is happening, how big baby is in context to everyday objects and what baby can hear or indeed eats!
Our Squidgy girl’s birth story is a little bit of a lot of things. It’s still quite raw in my head, and this will probably all come out a bit rambly, but… it is what it is. It was imperfect, and yet perfect too. It was perfectly different. Perhaps that’s the first lesson I’ve had to learn in parenting two children. Perfectly different. For a short birth, this is a long story. Here it is:
Squidgy, who is as yet unnamed, was born at 17:23 in water in our living room at home on 13 March 2012. She weighed 4.2kg, or 9lb 6oz, with a head circumference of 37.5 cm and length of 56cm. So, yes. A rather big baby. By scan dates she was 42 weeks and 5 days gestation. By my dates she was 40 weeks and 5 days. Her placenta was fine and she was still covered in vernix and not at all wrinkled or looking like an overdue baby.
Her birth story started a few weeks before, but her labour day started at 3:45 on Tuesday morning when I woke up with contractions that were strong enough that I was moaning in my sleep and realised that I was disturbing Ameli, who was in bed next to me. I went downstairs and tried to write a letter to Squidgy, but I had said everything there was for me to say in the weeks of waiting, so instead I sat on the birth ball, did figure of eight’s and popped the TENS machine on to help me through pretty strong, but well separated contractions. I lay down on the sofa to sleep, and the contractions stopped for a while, waking me every half hour or so, till Ameli came downstairs.
I kept the TENS machine going, but started getting Ameli ready for nursery – I figured contractions were far enough apart that she’d not miss anything by going to nursery. She went, and I did my work for the day, and sent a few emails and finalised a few things. I didn’t expect things to progress too quickly, and figured there was still time, so I didn’t do too much preparation.
Ameli got home and her and daddy went for a lie down, during which time my contractions were powerful, but still about 11 minutes apart. I just relaxed on the sofa or the birth ball, and did a lot of dancing in the lounge during contractions, swishing my hips and doing figure of eights and focusing on my breathing.
Martin had partially inflated the birthpool in the morning, and I was starting to feel it was going to become necessary sooner rather than later. I finished inflating it, and cleared the lounge, preparing it for the midwives.
I let my midwives, both of who were off duty for the day, know that I was in labour, and then let the on call midwife, Deanna, who I had never met before know that I was in labour, but that there was no rush. I had had a session of acupressure the evening before with a newish friend, Rhiannon, and had discovered that she was actually training to be a Doula and that she needed a few more clients before qualifying, so I’d said I’d let her know when I was in labour, and if she wanted to come over, she’d be welcome to. So, I let her know and she replied saying ‘Can I say that I’m secretly hoping to make it to support you!? I have felt so drawn to you the last week, it’s such a strong emotion to feel compelled to support a birthing woman!” Her reply excited me, and flooded me with energy and I looked forward to having her there. Also because I didn’t know who was going to be attending, midwife wise, I was happy to have someone impartial that I could trust – someone who wasn’t emotionally invested in the birth of a child or grandchild.
When Ameli woke up at 15:30, we went into the kitchen and started baking the cake in a jar that I had prepared a few weeks before. While we were in the kitchen, I became increasingly insistent that my husband needed to start filling the pool, which he began to do. And it’s about here that things started unravelling. Martin tried to attach the water fitting for filling the pool. When we’d tested it all, we’d had a different kitchen tap, but it has recently been refitted and suddenly our fitting didn’t fit the tap! He started fixing it to make it fit, and needed another pair of hands, so I called my mother downstairs to help him while I finished making the cake. My contractions had suddenly gone from every 11 or so minutes to every 2 to 3 minutes, and I started feeling like I was bearing down. I phoned Deanna and told her I think we’re progressing fast. I let Rhiannon know, and at 15:33 she said she was on her way.
Just after 16:00 I tweeted that we’d made a cake and it was in the oven. I was in the lounge. My mother was drying her hair upstairs and Martin was still working on the pool. I was contracting and couldn’t sit on the birth ball anymore for the pressure. I leaned over the back of the sofa, but became concerned that my waters might break over the sofa. I moved onto the floor, because I was pretty certain that I was now bearing down, but I wasn’t sure. Somehow I felt uncertain, because no one else was concerned. Everyone else seemed to be busy with other things, and I had Ameli with me saying “Are you breathing mama? Are you breathing?”
It was around this time that I became aware of Rhiannon arriving, and she immediately managed Ameli by asking her if she could go upstairs and get her favourite book, I think! I had another contraction before I could even recover from the previous one, and I told Rhiannon that I needed them to fill the bath because they weren’t going to get the pool filled in time. At this point the midwife arrived and there was such a rush of activity, I started feeling quite panicked. I stood up, contracted, leaning in to Rhiannon, and changed into what I would be wearing in the pool.
I climbed in the pool and Rhiannon gave me something homeopathic so that I wouldn’t be sick from the gas and air Deanna had set up. Amazingly, I wasn’t. I didn’t have any reaction to it at all, in fact. Not even the wooziness I experienced with Ameli.
Ameli got in the pool with me and was very excited by everything going on. We were still filling the pool, I was having definite pushing moves, my husband was somewhere, sorting out the video camera, (which I noticed at one point near the end, and realised you couldn’t actually see anything. I’d intended to have it with a room view, rather than just on me, but had obviously never communicated this to anyone else! I meant to say something, but had a contraction and forgot about it) and my mom was somewhere in the room with one or two midwives – somewhere during all this, Tanya, my midwife who was on a day off, had arrived.
Ameli started wanting to do all sorts in the pool and I felt the need to go inwards and have space, so asked for her to be removed. She was not happy, and my mother grabbed her and took her upstairs to redress her. She screamed fiercely, which unsettled me, but they were back soon enough, and my mom started doing the activity pack with her. This pack was an absolute winner in my view-from-the-pool. There was enough to keep her busy, but she was able to be a part of what was going on. She was able to stick her head over the pool and see what was going on, but not having to be an active part of it. She didn’t watch Squidgy being born, but saw her raised out the water. I was very happy with her ‘involvement’ in her sister’s birth.
Martin finally came and stood by me. He’d finally gotten the water up to the right level, and was able to be with me. I rested my head on his hand and told him I’d missed him. He’d been my rock in Ameli’s birth, and this time we just weren’t ready and I’d been doing it without him. He helped me breathe properly again and was available to me and meeting my needs in birth. I am very lucky to have him as a birth, and life, partner.
At this point, however, I was feeling frantic. Everything had moved so fast – the last hour had seen three people arrive, a pool filled, Ameli in the pool and back out again and somewhere the beeping of the oven to say the cake was ready too! – I lay in the pool pushing, thinking ‘No, no, no! I’m not ready! I need to focus. This hurts. Why does it hurt! It didn’t hurt last time!’
I couldn’t understand where the pain was coming from. I know that sounds odd to most people, but there was no pain in the transition at Ameli’s birth. I was so calm, I was so focussed, it was so different. I said I needed everyone to be quiet because I couldn’t focus and the room did quiet down, albeit temporarily. I asked Martin to change the MP3 player from the hypnobirthing CD which I was just not able to focus on, to music. The effect was immediate. I was able to focus in on the music, sing along to the song and focus all my attention inwards. I felt immediately calmer, and my pain level actually halved. It was amazing relief being able to just internalise, and visualise. At one stage Rhiannon and my mother were singing along with me and I remember having my eyes closed and thinking they sounded like angels.
I also remember feeling my waters break very near the end – in fact I think Squidgy may have crowned just after. It was an odd feeling, like a ‘POP’ but I couldn’t say anything to anyone, I wanted to wave my arms and point, but I couldn’t move my arms, instead my legs jerked up and down. My eyes were closed, but I imagine I looked like chicken thighs jerking about. When I finally could speak again, I told them my waters had gone.
Everyone worries about pooing during birth, and at one point, I know I must have because I remember someone saying ‘where’s the sieve’ and I actually giggled to myself – although quite possibly only I heard it – because I saw the words from an article I read by Ina May Gaskin floating in front of my eyes “Where there’s maternal poop, there’s usually a little head that follows”. I was excited about the baby head and choose not to think of the poop.
It wasn’t much later when Rhiannon said that they could see the baby’s head. I was surprised. I knew I was in transition, I knew it was happening, but again, it was so fast. It was as if I stopped fighting and started going with what was happening. I felt myself stop fighting it. It had been about an hour since everyone had arrived, but once I’d been able to focus in on what was happening inside myself, it took minutes – maybe 15 and Squidgy birthed herself the way her sister had. All at once.
When I felt her head, I said I want to pick her up myself, I didn’t want anyone else to touch my baby first. Once she was born I remember someone telling me to pick her up, that I had to pick her up now, and I remember not moving, but thinking ‘no, not yet’. I think I mumbled something about ‘Where’s the cord’. Ameli had the cord wrapped around her neck twice, and we cut it straight away as we couldn’t get it unwrapped. I didn’t want the same to happen again.
That wasn’t a problem this time, however, and I picked my baby up out the water and put her on my chest. I asked for her towel to be given to me, and my mom handed it over to me. I wrapped her in it in the pool and we waited for the cord to stop pulsing.
She nursed pretty much immediately, I had some Angelica Root to help the placenta release and sat in the pool looking at my little…. Well, I had to look twice, because I had been so sure she was going to be a boy, but instead we had another little girl! I was so surprised – but we are both really happy to have another girl.
Martin cut the cord when it had stopped pulsing, and Rhiannon whisked the placenta off to the kitchen, ready for processing (I have had it encapsulated.) Ameli came to look at her sister properly, and her first words on the matter were “Can it walk?”
We all had a good chuckle.
From there it’s all a bit of a blur. The baby was weighed and weighed again, because we thought there was something wrong with the scale. She was so much heavier than we thought. I had a quick check, and then had a shower. Rhiannon made me a smoothie, and Deanna wrote her notes. My mom looked after both my children – BOTH MY CHILDREN!! – while I was finishing up (actually I have no idea what happened while I was showering, now I think about it) but when I came downstairs, my mom had the baby and Ameli was playing with her puzzles.
Deanna left, Martin made me some pasta, I shared the news with the world, and then went upstairs to bed. My mom called my dad and showed him the baby, by which time I’d fallen asleep. Someone, I think Martin, brought her back in to me, and so we slept, through the night, as newborns tend to do.
I woke in the morning, staring at this little piece of magic lying next to me, awed that we’re here again, that we’ve done this again, and blessed beyond measure. Not only the mother of two amazing beings, each so individual, but also a woman, an owner of my birthing experiences, floored once again by the magnitude and raw power of birth, proud beyond measure to be a member of the female gender and fiercely protective over the power that comes with it.
(I’ll write more another time about what I’ve learned from this birth, as there’s a lot. Also about our experience of an older sibling at a birth, and how birth preparation affected the birth.)
Please consider nominating us for best pregnancy blog, best baby blog, or best ‘family life’ blog in the MADS awards. You have to nominate someone as blogger of the year first – feel free to nominate us there too!
Preparing for childbirth is a huge hit and miss activity. There’s only so much planning, reading, preparation and thought you can put into it, and then you have to step back and let nature do her thing. Now throw a toddler in the mix and you have a whole new ball game.
I’ve been planning and preparing a home birth in the hope of having my two year old daughter present. We’ve read books to prepare. We’ve spoken about it. We’ve watched birth videos. I tried to do yoga with her in the room. She rode me like a donkey. Really. There’s just no accounting for a two year old’s frame of mind. So really, when it comes to planning to have a toddler at the birth of a sibling, it’s taken every ounce of my pre-child project and event management professional experience to come up with a plan. And in true project management style, here’s a graph to show you what I’ve realised:
Jokes aside though, that 1% that I have ‘under control’ includes having someone here to keep Ameli entertained when I go into labour and need my husband by my side. As I write this I’m having random contractions, and my ‘person’ – my sister – is still six days from arriving to look after Ameli!
I have, however, done what I can to prepare. I’ve prepared a Birth Activity Bag with some things that I know with supervision and attention will keep Ameli busy for some time. Since I have no idea how long labour will be, and I have no idea whether she’ll be awake or not, I have no idea if there’s enough here, or too much, but whatever’s left over will be great to share together and keep her entertained while I’m learning to breastfeed a new baby. (By the time you read this, I may have answers to all these questions!)
In our Birth Activity Bag, we have:
These are all things we’ve bought new for the occasion, but in reality, they don’t have to be.
If you follow on Facebook or Twitter, this is going to be old news to you now, but Squidgy is here!! And she’s a girl! What a surprise!! I was really expecting a boy, for some reason!
She was born yesterday, 13 March at 17:23 – that’s 5:23 PM for my American friends – weighing in at an astonishing 4.2 kg, or 9lb6oz. We made them weigh her again, because I didn’t believe that could be right. My bump was so small compared to with Ameli.
Full birth story to follow, but we’re very excited, happy and ecstatic to have had our home water birth, despite being at 42 weeks and 5 days according to the scan dates!
Thank you everyone for your support…
Despite having had an amazing home water birth with my first child, and having watched a few feature film lengths of birthing videos on youtube and around the web, whenever I think of childbirth, I still have the mental image of legs up in stirrups and nurses and doctors and pale looking fathers urging a screaming mother to ‘push, push,push!’ Such is the level of our indoctrination by TV, really!
The reality can and should be much different though. For a start, when a woman has sensation in her lower body, (i.e. hasn’t had strong pain medications) she knows all too well when to push. In fact, it’s physically impossible not to push. Your body just does it and there’s no stopping it. The picture you see on TV is what happens when the mother-to-be has had an epidural and can’t feel the natural urges to push. You then have a nurse, midwife or doctor looking at a screen to monitor when the contractions have started, and telling the mother to push.
Preparing for a homebirth is one thing, but preparing your older child for a homebirth has been a whole different adventure. I think how much you’re able to prepare them depends massively on the child’s age, and while I have no evidence of this, I suspect the younger they are, the more ‘easily’ they’ll just ‘go with it’.
We’ve been reading books and practicing mooing and making groany noises together so that Ameli knows what mama might do when the baby comes. With her birth there was no crying or screaming, it was actually very calm and gentle. I’m hoping for the same again this time.
As with any birth, our preparation will only take us so far, then it’s up to nature and a little bit of luck to take you the rest of the way. It’s no different with preparing a child for a birth, whether it’s a home birth or hospital birth. Having never been through it before, we have no idea how Ameli will react, whether she’ll be in any way interested, or will in fact even be awake!
But on the hope that she’ll be there and understand what’s going on, we’ve been watching birth videos together, for preparation.
Below are the best we’ve found. I’ve specifically chosen videos that aren’t overly graphic, and are relatively short – while the lead up and pregnancy pictures and all that make for a beautiful dedication, they don’t really captivate a two year old! I’ve also gone for gentle and calm births. There were some amazing ones with lots of screaming. She found them disconcerting, and I didn’t feel they were contributing to the positive preparation we were hoping for.
This is an unassisted birth at home in the bath. Mama doesn’t make a sound the whole way through!
Another in the bath at home. Another really quiet mama! Birth happens about a minute in.
Here the mother labours in a birthpool and it is probably closer to our setup. Mama rocks up and down in the pool while holding her belly through the contractions and there’s some heavy breathing. This is useful for explaining the way you’ll be breathing (i.e. golden thread breathing) and to ‘practice’ it together with your child/ren. (For the record, I don’t think her breathing would be ideal for me – it’s too panty, but it obviously worked for her.)
While we’re not planning a land birth, there’s no harm in preparing Ameli for it too. Also, they’re a bit for explanatory of where the baby comes from, since they show a little more. These are still not very graphic.
Here mama labours on all fours and has gives birth around the 2 minute mark
Quite explicit and straight on, but I still thought this one was tastefully done in a way that was child friendly to watch too.
Older siblings at birth:
Here’s a mix of different births, but with older siblings present. I found these really useful for comparisons. “See how the boy stands next to the pool and doesn’t try to climb in? Ameli mustn’t climb in either when mama’s having the baby.” And so on.
This clip has the nine year old sister aiding in the delivery of the baby, along with the midwife. It’s good though as it shows the baby coming out without actually showing any gory bits.
There’s about a minute of pregnancy pictures here, then a few seconds of labour pictures – birth ball use and so on. This video is good as it involves a bit of groaning and ‘noise’ but nothing ‘violent’ or frightening. The boy gives his mama cuddles and kisses and generally ‘hangs around’. It’s a beautiful and gentle birth and Ameli copies the lady’s ‘ooh,ooh’s’.
A longer video that has the older brother in the tub with mama for much of the labour. This was a good clip for me to watch too, as I’ve been concerned about being able to focus in with Ameli around, but if this mama can do it, then it obviously can be done! Birth happens around 7 minutes with a realistic amount of panting and groaning and moaning.
And of course, no birth viewing session would be complete without the picture slideshow of Ameli’s own birth. This one has the lead up of labour, including the birth ball, gas and air for a while, and labouring in water. Birth occurs around 2:20.
(Q16 on the birthplan: Would I like my baby to be given a vitamin K injection?)
During my pregnancy with Ameli, I learned everything I could about everything pregnancy and birth related! I wrote a book full of notes, typed it all up and kept it with my birth plan so that if I had to have a justification for my decisions at any point, I’d have it on hand. I was blessed with an amazing midwife who didn’t even question my choices, so I never needed them, but here are my notes on Vitamin K… maybe you’ll find them useful. These notes formed the basis of my decision and are only intended to provide reference materials to start you off on your own research.
Vitamin K is routinely given because:
“The problem of bleeding into the brain occurs mainly from 3 to 7 weeks after birth in just over 5 out of 100,000 births (without vitamin K injections); 90% of those cases are breastfed infants because formulas are supplemented with unnaturally high levels of vitamin K. Forty percent of these infants suffer permanent brain damage or death.”Linda Folden Palmer, DC in International Chiropractic Pediatric Association Newsletter September/October 2002 Issue
Vitamin K may be needed when:
There are alternatives to a vitamin K shot:
For breastfed infants, an oral vitamin K preparation (Konakion MM) given in 3 doses of 2mg at birth, 7 days, and 30 days of life results in higher plasma vitamin K concentrations than a single injected dose at birth (although my current midwife doesn’t agree with this statement). The preparation must be Konakion MM, which contains lecithin and glycocoholic acid; vitamin K require emulsification and the presence of bile salts for its absorption.
For formula fed infants, formula contains enough vitamin K that no supplement should be necessary.
Arguments against the routine use of vitamin K – three main observations (Falcao):
Nature seems to go to a lot of trouble in regulating the baby’s vitamin K levels: the level at birth gradually rises over the eight days following birth to a higher level. It is almost as if nature very specifically wants the baby to have a specific level of clotting factors at birth, followed by a higher level of clotting factors a week after the birth.
This may be related to the fact that in a physiological birth, where the baby gets all the blood from the placenta, the baby’s blood is a little thicker; this is especially true in the 72 hours following birth, since the babies naturally become a little dehydrated until the mother’s milk changes to a higher volume flow, so the blood is thicker.
There has been some association between vitamin K injection and childhood leukaemia. (Parker) Theoretical observations are that precise levels of vitamin K are required to regulate the rate of cell division in newborns and that excessive levels of vitamin K disrupt this regulatory process, thus increasing the possibility of leukaemia and other childhood cancers. (While a few studies have refuted this suggestion, several tightly controlled studies have shown this correlation to be most likely1,2.The most current analysis of six different studies suggests it is a 10% or 20% increased risk. This is still a significant number of avoidable cancers.3)
Follow up research indicated that the leukaemia might have been related to mercury used to preserve the vitamin K solution. Further research in 2003 found that there was no definitive link between childhood leukaemia and Vitamin K, but also that ‘small effects cannot be ruled out’.
Research shows that babies who contract meningitis are more likely to die if they have higher clotting factors. It’s not clear whether this is due to genetic factors or whether it applies to all babies who receive vitamin K. ( I can’t find any actual links to this research, despite it being mentioned all over the web!)
The warning label on Vitamin K injections is pretty scary too:
Severe reactions, including fatalities, have occurred during and immediately after the parenteral administration of Phytonadione. Typically these severe reactions have resembled hypersensitivity or anaphylaxis, including shock and cardiac and/or respiratory arrest. Some patients have exhibited these severe reactions on receiving Phytonadione for the first time. The majority of these reported events occurred following intravenous administration, even when precautions have been taken to dilute the Phytonadione and to avoid rapid infusion. Therefore, the INTRAVENOUS route should be restricted to those situations where another route is not feasible and the increased risk involved is considered justified.
Dangers of excess Vitamin K:
When a baby is born gently, without any intervention, antibiotic, or trauma, and no apparent bruising, and is breastfed, there is no need for Vitamin K. Administering vitamin K to these babies – especially if they are formula fed – can lead to excess Vitamin K, which in turn may lead to newborn jaundice.
Signs Suggesting Need for Vitamin K after birth:
(This list is written by Jennifer Enoch. Midwifery Today. Issue 40.)
Keep the umbilical cord attached until it stops pulsing. Do not cut it prematurely, as average transfusion to the newborn is equivalent to 21% of the neonate’s final blood volume and three quarters of the transfusion occurs in the first minute after birth. (As Vitamin K doesn’t cross the placenta, this should make no difference to Vit K levels, but will help with iron levels etc.)
When breastfeeding (or just before starting), make sure to eat plenty of leafy greens or take a vitamin K supplement – vitamin K does not cross the planceta in pregnancy, but does enter breast milk in feeding. Anti-acids (used for heartburn) decrease the absorption of Vitamin K in the body – bare this in mind if you have lots of indigestion during pregnancy and be sure to increase with Vitamin K intake from around 38 weeks of pregnancy, as this will help prevent against haemorrhaging too.
Nettles are rich in Vitamin K – made into a tea you’ll get everything you need. Otherwise try a Nettle soup.
My conclusion on this sensitive matter, based on the information available to the public and its potential impact on my own family, is thus:
Nature says a baby doesn’t need large amounts of Vitamin K, but that delayed cord clamping and the transfer of oxygenated blood gives the child enough resources to cope with the effects of a ‘normal’ birth. If the mother has been consuming Vitamin K in some form or another, it will immediately begin transferring through her colostrum, which is rich in Vitamin K and breastmilk and by eight days of age, baby will have the ‘right’ amount of Vitamin K (and since formula is fortified with vitamin K, formula fed babies shouldn’t require it at all) – since the disease it is meant to prevent doesn’t tend to occur until between 3 and 7 weeks I personally question the need for the injection.
At the same time, bleeding kills almost 2 in 10,000 babies, and this is the closest I could find to statistics as to deaths from the injections ** although we know that they have occurred. It says so on the label. So really, the conclusion is inconclusive.
Every parent has to make their own decisions on this, but for me and mine, we’ve decided against vitamin K injections unless something in the birth necessitates it. We’ve also decided to follow natural alternatives, such as breastfeeding and a high maternal Vitamin K intake and to keep a close eye on the signs of bleeding as described above.
** The FDA database contained a total of 2236 adverse drug reactions reported in 1019 patients receiving vitamin K by all routes of administration. Of the 192 patients with reactions reported for intravenous vitamin K, 132 patients (69%%) had a reaction defined as anaphylactoid, with 24 fatalities (18%%) attributed to the vitamin K reaction. There were 21 patients with anaphylactoid reactions and 4 fatalities reported with doses of intravenous vitamin K of less than 5[emsp4 ]mgs. For the 217 patients with reactions reported due to vitamin K via a non-intravenous route of administration, 38 patients had reactions meeting the definition of anaphylactoid (18%%), with 1 fatality (3%%) attributed to the drug.
L. Parker et al., “Neonatal vitamin K administration and childhood cancer in the north of England: retrospective case-control study,” BMJ (England) 316, no. 7126 (Jan 1998): 189-93.
S.J. Passmore et al., “Case-control studies of relation between childhood cancer and neonatal vitamin K administration,” BMJ (England) 316, no. 7126 (Jan 1998): 178-84.
E. Roman et al., “Vitamin K and childhood cancer: analysis of individual patient data from six case-control studies,” Br J Cancer (England) 86, no. 1 (Jan 2002): 63-9
I’m not a list person. There’s something about spending time making a list that irritates me. It takes my hubby about as long to make a to-do list as it takes me to just do the stuff on the list. Yet, when it came to my last pregnancy and labour, I made a list long before the day of things to do when contractions start.
This list will differ from person to person, but I thought I’d share it with you, in case you’re not sure what to do ‘next’.
In Hollywood, your waters break in a great gush and everyone rushes off to hospital in a mad dash. In reality, very few women’s water’s break in the shopping centre, on the train or as you’re about to set off on holiday. Of course it does happen, but for the most part, in real life, you have time – if your waters even break before contractions start!
My lovely midwife gave me a list of things we needed to get ready for our homebirth, and – no surprises here – but I lost it! I’ve been trawling the web looking for the definitive guide on things you need to prepare for a homebirth but ‘definitive’ is so subjective.
I absolutely love how Homebirth.org.uk puts it – “All you really need for a homebirth is a pregnant woman and a home, but sometimes a few other things are handy”. Isn’t that just my philosophy for birth and parenting?
So what are those ‘handy’ things that you can have ready and waiting for labour? (Ideally in a box or bag so that there’s no running around searching for stuff on the day!)
For the birth:
For the mother-to-be:
For the baby:
If you are packing an ‘in case’ bag – which I choose not to do – you can put the essentials you need in it:
If you are having older children at the birth:
Is there anything I’ve left out or forgotten? What did you use or need that’s not on this list?
More posts in this series:
What does the birthpartner do at the birth?
That’s a really simple question, actually, with a ridiculously difficult answer, because the variables on it depend on the birthing woman, the environment, the birthing assistants, experience, relationship and about as many other things as you can imagine!
*For the purpose of this post, the birth partner is assumed to be the dad, but can be anyone the birthing mother wants or needs!
Never the less, men, especially, often find themselves completely hands off and lost when it comes to the birth of their babies. You only have to watch an episode of One Born Every Minute (which I strongly recommend as a contraceptive, but not as birth instruction!) to see how dads can feel uninvolved and at a loss when it comes to childbirth.