Sunday, September 13, 2009

Delivery room football again

Last weekend, I went to a wonderful birth. One of the things that was nice was the immediate skin-to-skin contact mom and baby had right from birth, which was very important to the family. But I didn't realize at the time exactly how it came about. When I went for my postpartum visit, the dad told me the story:

Because of a complication right at the beginning of labor, mom and baby were both being carefully monitored and baby was looking absolutely fabulous on the monitor. No problems at all. However, as things were getting closer to pushing time, the midwife said she wanted to warn them that because of the complication, the pediatric team would need to come, and would want to take the baby right away. That would mean there would be no immediate skin-to-skin or delayed cord clamping.

(I have seen this happen at that hospital before, usually because of meconium in the amniotic fluid: with any mec, the protocol is that the peds team stands hovering around the warmer, and as soon as the baby is born - no matter how healthy and vigorous - they take the baby to the other side of the room. Then they spend five or so minutes wiping, suctioning, and monitoring while mom is craning her neck trying to see. It just seems...silly. She wants the baby, the baby wants her, the baby is healthy, why go through that routine? But I digress.)

So the midwife was explaining this to the mom, who was on her way to the bathroom and going through transition and not listening very closely, and to the dad, who was listening very closely indeed. I was in the bathroom with the mom, supporting her through contractions, so I did not know about this part until the next day:

While we were in the bathroom, the midwife was explaining this to the dad, and he said, "But the baby is healthy, right? You keep telling us she's doing great."

"Yeees...but we're really supposed to have the pediatric team here, and if they come, they usually don't just want to stand around. They'll want to take the baby."

"Even if the baby is born healthy and totally fine?"

"Yes, they'll want to take her."

Skin-to-skin and delayed cord clamping were really important parts of their birth plan, and the dad hadn't really heard a reason yet for that to change. He was focused on his wife who was going through a lot at the moment, and was in the bathroom vocalizing very loudly, and he just wanted the conversation over.

He said firmly, "You can call them, and they can come. But if they try to take our healthy baby, I will tackle them. I will just...tackle them."

And the midwife looked back at him and said, "Okay. Let me give them a call and see what we can work out."

Birth time came, peds hovered around the warmer, baby was born looking good, went straight to mom, had all newborn assessments done skin-to-skin, and cord was allowed to pulse before they cut. Then baby was taken for a couple minutes for a quick check and suction, then went straight back to mom and started breastfeeding.

Go dad!!

When I heard about how he made it happen, his threat to tackle reminded me of the original Delivery Room Football". Rixa at Stand and Deliver posted about it recently again, talking about "iron in my soul".

So a note to dads, moms, and other birth partners: as a doula I can encourage you to know your rights and be assertive, but only you can actually DO it. Don't be afraid to!


Dou-la-la said...

Good for dad! (I'd add some sports term, but I'm completely ignorant there.) Thanks for sharing a great example.

Sheridan said...

Great story of how Birth Partner has a huge part in what happens! Good job dad!