Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Two baby boys born in the last ten days. Both were quick births, both had some weird stuff afterwards. Both are fine now!

At both births, there were family members present who were nurses.

At the second birth, it was the baby's grandma who was the nurse. She was quite, um, critical, of many of the things we did. She used an almost accusatory tone to state (to MountainMama and her daughter, not to me),
"You should have turned all the lights on in the room."
"You should have covered the baby's head as soon as it was out."
"You shouldn't have waited so long to do the baby's vitals."
"You should have used the bulb syringe."
"You should have taken the baby's oxygen levels."

Oh my. I should have done a great deal more educating that I did at the home visit. Because the baby's mother had had a homebirth with me before, I figured I didn't need to. But the grandma was not present at that earlier birth.

So, I did explain to the baby's mother why we did and didn't do many of the things, but grandma still is feeling very judgemental about our competence.

Turn all the lights on? For what purpose, exactly? We're not in the hospital and I don't need the hubble telescope lights to catch a baby. I could see what I needed to see. Cover the baby's head? We don't do that in a warm room when baby is skin to skin and covered in a warm towel. It's just not necessary when we don't cut the cord right away. "He was cold" says the mom. No, he wasn't. His temperature measured exactly normal.

Why wait so long to do the vitals? What do you mean? We did them at 1 minute and at 5 minutes for the APGAR just like we're supposed to. Do you mean the full newborn exam? Yes? Well, what is the rush for that? (He might lose weight. What? In two hours? LOL) In the hospital they don't do them until the next day when the peds make their rounds.

Why didn't we suction? Because we don't do that routinely. Most babies are perfectly capable of clearing their breathing passages. Most babies get a decent squeeze on the way out. Suctioning with the bulb syringe can cause a vagal response in the baby. If we must suction, we use a delee. But we don't do it routinely.

Why didn't we take the baby's oxygen levels? What on earth do you mean? A pulse-oximeter? Yes? Why would we do that? They don't do that in the hospital routinely either. If the baby is pink, breathing and has a good heartrate, there is no reason to think their pulse-ox would be low. And if they NEEDED their pulse-ox taken, they need to be in the hospital.

Sigh. It was weird for me to be feeling defensive about the stuff that is so normal and usual to me. Why did I feel defensive? Because the grandma didn't ask me any questions. Just made the accusatory statements to her daughter and to MountainMama. "You should have done this. You should have done that." "Should"ing all over us.

I guess I have to make a better effort and educating grandmas that are going to be at the birth. I did meet her at the home visit and gave her ample opportunity to ask questions, but she said she didn't have any. Next time, I will give the information anyway.


TracyKM said...

This reminds me of when my husband recently stained a dresser. I've done quite a bit of this type of stuff, but not actually staining furniture, and he hadn't done anything of the sort before. I had lots of questions and I made sure to phrase them as questions (even when they were more like statements). It's normal to feel defensive when you feel like your compentency is being questioned. But grandma doesn't matter---baby is fine! :)

Megan said...

Oh Grandmas...many of us have got to have them...and sigh...some of them just get up ya nose.
I don't know if you can educate them...just put up with them...nod and agree..."yes dear" stuff but with respect...and as my Dad says just go about your stuff.

Amanda said...

hope all is well.

Amanda said...

Hope all is well. I'm missing your birth stories.

Tricia said...

What a load of baggage this grandma is carrying!! I have homebirths and our 1st married daughter delivered in hospital. I was with her when she delivered her second child. Now I suppose I'd forgotten just what goes on in hospital because I was appalled at what they were doing to the baby. And the mom. It was almost like I stepped onto another planet or something. And what's funny, is I myself had just given birth to my 12th just a couple of months earlier so it wasn't like delivering a baby was an ancient thing for me!!