The First Month as New Parents

I’ll be starting off where I ended the last post (Eli’s birth story), into the first month of being parents. Aaron has helped with this post as he did most of the research into the decisions we made at the hospital.

 The Bradley Method book describes a scene after baby is born of the mother walking to the recovery room almost immediately after the baby is born with the newborn in one arm, a glass of orange juice in the other, and a smile on her face.

Yeah right.

My scene looked like this: baby being wheeled down the hall in the bassinet by the nurse (not allowed to be carried anywhere outside your own room), dad following baby (he was determined not to let Eli out of his sight during our hospital stay), and me shuffling way behind because my lady parts would scream if I moved faster than a snails pace. I refused the wheel chair. If I couldn’t have the smiling- baby- holding scene than gosh darn it I at least was going to walk.

I want to address some of the decisions we made in the hospital immediately following Eli’s birth. All of these decisions were made after lots of research on both sides of each argument. By sharing this I’m only hoping to encourage all parents to find out as much information about what will be happening to your baby (and you) and not always take one doctor or hospitals word for it. There is a really good blog post here that goes into more detail about the standard in most hospitals.

First of all we wanted delayed cord clamping. It’s becoming more widely done, and makes so much sense. By waiting even five minutes your baby gets 20-50% more blood in its system. There is also some interesting research done on how this could explain the low vitamin k levels at birth. The last studies done regarding vitamin k levels in newborns was done decades ago and also when the cord was cut almost immediately after birth. Great article here.

It is now standard procedure to give a shot of vitamin k at birth. This is to help prevent the chance of a brain bleed and help the blood clot if needed. We are generally of the mindset that the less interventions done the better. Based on this we decided to refuse the vitamin k shot. The typical statement you will find regarding vitamin k levels in newborns is that they all are low.  These low levels are in comparison to the levels found in adults. We feel that if all babies are born with low vitamin k then there is probably a reason for it, and if every newborn has “low” levels, then is it really low? Our pediatrician even said that jaundice is so common that there is probably a medical reason that it happens right after birth. Blog post here with more information.

Another standard procedure done is the administration of the Hepatitis B shot. We felt very strongly that there was no need for our newborn to be vaccinated against a STD. For this same reason we refused the eye drops. These are also given to protect against sexually transmitted disease while being delivered vaginally. From what I have read a lot of these procedures are in place to cover people who come in with little to no medical care prior to labor to protect those babies. The mother is typically tested for Hep B and other STD’s prior to birth. If you have Hep B or an STD, then there may be good reason to have these things done to your newborn right after birth. However, if you do not then there is no valid medical reason to receive either. More information here.

We also decided to have our baby room in with us. The only time he went to the nursery was for his pediatrician check up. We were committed to breastfeeding and knew that the more he was with me at the beginning the better. There is lots of information out there supporting the idea that the more skin to skin contact early on the better your milk supply will be.

Lastly, we decided to wait until the eighth day to be circumcised. There are different policies in different states but in Virginia they do it in the hospital the day after the baby is born. In the Bible God mandates circumcision to be done on the 8th day and now we know that there is a medical reason for that. Blood clotting in babies doesn’t reach its peak until 8 days after birth and is often even slightly higher than your normal 100% levels. Because we did not have it performed in the hospital we had to do some research in order to find someone to do it. After calling around synagogues seeing who they use for a Mohel, Aaron found a gynecologist in Virginia Beach that also performed circumcisions. When we went for the appointment the doctor sat down with us to tell us how it works. He has been doing circumcisions for 34 years and has never had any complications. Apparently there is a technique used frequently in hospitals that requires the babies to be pinned to the table for 10 minutes (Which is probably why the parents aren’t allowed in). Aaron went into the room with the doctor for the procedure which took about 2 minutes. I came in right after (I didn’t think I could watch) and was allowed to nurse him immediately following. Because we were getting him circumsized we decided to do an oral vitamin k at the pediatrician. This was given in three doses. This was done more to appease the pediatrician than the the feeling that he needed it. God designed our bodies to be able to cope with these things. If you are interested in getting the vitamin k shot regardless, some hospitals do offer the oral alternative. We felt comfortable with this option because so much less of the vitamin is absorbed when taken orally than as a shot and when you research the levels of vitamin k in the shot, it is astonishing how high it is.

Right away in the hospital I knew we were going to have trouble breastfeeding. After Eli’s cord was cut we tried to get him to latch without much luck. After moving to our recovery room we tried again with the help of the nurse. He didn’t want to open his mouth very wide and once he did was a little lazy about it. It took at least 10 minutes to get him to latch each time. The first month of breastfeeding will have to be a whole other post… Sitting here at 10 weeks after I can tell you that all the hard work (and blood and tears) were definitely worth it.

I had heard over and over again that the first two weeks were the hardest. Knowing that going in was definitely helpful. It gave me hope that it would get a little easier. I would say the hardest part was and is constantly questioning myself. I had such a hard time knowing when he was hungry vs tired and I felt like such a failure. Since moving away from Washington I hadn’t been working and was getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night most of my pregnancy. I was SO worried about the sleep deprivation. I NEED my sleep. I knew ahead of time that babies needed to eat every two hours but it hadn’t really sunk in. Eli would nurse for at least 40 minutes a side at the beginning, which meant barely an hour in between feedings. On top of the painful breastfeeding I was not prepared for how SORE I would be! I used a squat bar during labor and was very body sore through my back and arms. Also my lady parts were very tender for at least a month. Thank GOODNESS Aaron had two weeks of paternity leave (very rare in the Navy). He would take Eli as soon as I was done nursing so I could get some sleep. Those two weeks are very hazy to me now… We were both very enamored of him though and spent a lot of time just staring at him.

1 week old Elijah

Next I will go into more detail about our breastfeeding journey (so far). We struggled at first but have come out on top! I am so glad and even more committed to the joy of breastfeeding.

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