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Birth Choices and The NICU

The baby was just 34 weeks. Her water had been broken for several days. He was a hearty little soul, quite fiesty – but tiny at just over 4lbs. To the NICU he went to be watched and cared for. Yesterday mom was discharged, and baby stayed, because we have no rooming in at the NICUs in our city hospitals. Nor is there any step-down NICU, for the babies being watched for potential problems, rather than being treated for problems. It was bittersweet. We were all so happy to see him doing so well. It was hard for them to leave their baby there. Yes, they may visit as much and as often as they like, but that is a far cry from coming home with a baby in your arms, a far cry from rooming in at the hospital. This baby is fine. His only requirements for discharge are taking all his feedings by breast of bottle (which he is doing), breathing on his own (which is he doing) and maintaining his body temperature (which he is not yet doing.) The crunchy doula in me wonders if he’d be just as well of rooming in with mom, sleeping at the breast, skin to skin under a blanket. The worried mother in me wants him and his mother to have the security of incubators and NICU nurses. Every part of me wonders, why can’t they have a little bit of both?

Next week I am going to join other caregivers in this area for a discussion with Henci Goer on the illusion of choice in childbirth. Tell me about it. No one plans for their water to break at 33 1/2 weeks. After that, choices are limited.

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8 Responses

  1. on 06/01/2009 at 4:33 pm | Reply Life As I Know It

    must be tough to see situations like that. I feel so lucky to have had two healthy babies.


  2. My heart is crying out for that mama to be next to her baby.


  3. wonder what would happen if he were monitored while being kangarooed with mom for a day at the hosp. Huh.


  4. yeah, i agree. wouldn’t kangaroo’ing with mom for hours on end stabilize his temperature? sometimes the world is just crazy.


  5. Poor new mama.I started laughing hysterically the other day when a soon-to-be first time mom was talking about her “birth plan”. Not one of my three pregnancies has had a predictable delivery – and yet I DO want her to have the birth she wants.


  6. It must be very hard to have your child at any age in the hospital and not be able to be with them full time. I hope he's home soon.


  7. Boy you can say that again!! I feel like I have had no control over either of my births. My second son was born premature at 30 weeks after my water broke at 24 weeks. Like you said, the NICU was open 22 hours a day and I could be there as much as I want, but its a far cry from mothering. I wasn't allowed to hold him until he was a week old, and then only with "permission." He had a lot of trouble with the damage to his lungs from having no amniotic fluid for 6 weeks, and ended up staying in the NICU for 9 weeks, and coming home on oxygen. What I would have given to have been able to really BE there with him particularly those last few weeks! The nurses never held the babies or gave them any affection or attention other than to feed or do their cares (i.e. stick their heels for blood). He was a BABY – he needed so much more touch then that. I was there 10-12 hours a day, but I had to go home and sleep sometime! It seems that once you have any complications, your hopes for a semi-normal birth and bonding experience is out the window.


  8. on 06/20/2009 at 2:46 pm | Reply Catherine W

    Birth plan, schmirth plan. My girls were born at 23 weeks gestation. I had no plan. I don't think that anybody had a plan.Mighty glad the NICU was there though. Much as I would have loved a normal birth and bonding process, I'm more than happy with one child that survived the whole experience.



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Birth Choices and The NICU

The baby was just 34 weeks. Her water had been broken for several days. He was a hearty little soul, quite fiesty – but tiny at just over 4lbs. To the NICU he went to be watched and cared for. Yesterday mom was discharged, and baby stayed, because we have no rooming in at the NICUs in our city hospitals. Nor is there any step-down NICU, for the babies being watched for potential problems, rather than being treated for problems. It was bittersweet. We were all so happy to see him doing so well. It was hard for them to leave their baby there. Yes, they may visit as much and as often as they like, but that is a far cry from coming home with a baby in your arms, a far cry from rooming in at the hospital. This baby is fine. His only requirements for discharge are taking all his feedings by breast of bottle (which he is doing), breathing on his own (which is he doing) and maintaining his body temperature (which he is not yet doing.) The crunchy doula in me wonders if he’d be just as well of rooming in with mom, sleeping at the breast, skin to skin under a blanket. The worried mother in me wants him and his mother to have the security of incubators and NICU nurses. Every part of me wonders, why can’t they have a little bit of both?

Next week I am going to join other caregivers in this area for a discussion with Henci Goer on the illusion of choice in childbirth. Tell me about it. No one plans for their water to break at 33 1/2 weeks. After that, choices are limited.

8 Responses

  1. on 06/01/2009 at 4:33 pm | Reply Life As I Know It

    must be tough to see situations like that. I feel so lucky to have had two healthy babies.


  2. My heart is crying out for that mama to be next to her baby.


  3. wonder what would happen if he were monitored while being kangarooed with mom for a day at the hosp. Huh.


  4. yeah, i agree. wouldn’t kangaroo’ing with mom for hours on end stabilize his temperature? sometimes the world is just crazy.


  5. Poor new mama.I started laughing hysterically the other day when a soon-to-be first time mom was talking about her “birth plan”. Not one of my three pregnancies has had a predictable delivery – and yet I DO want her to have the birth she wants.


  6. It must be very hard to have your child at any age in the hospital and not be able to be with them full time. I hope he's home soon.


  7. Boy you can say that again!! I feel like I have had no control over either of my births. My second son was born premature at 30 weeks after my water broke at 24 weeks. Like you said, the NICU was open 22 hours a day and I could be there as much as I want, but its a far cry from mothering. I wasn't allowed to hold him until he was a week old, and then only with "permission." He had a lot of trouble with the damage to his lungs from having no amniotic fluid for 6 weeks, and ended up staying in the NICU for 9 weeks, and coming home on oxygen. What I would have given to have been able to really BE there with him particularly those last few weeks! The nurses never held the babies or gave them any affection or attention other than to feed or do their cares (i.e. stick their heels for blood). He was a BABY – he needed so much more touch then that. I was there 10-12 hours a day, but I had to go home and sleep sometime! It seems that once you have any complications, your hopes for a semi-normal birth and bonding experience is out the window.


  8. on 06/20/2009 at 2:46 pm | Reply Catherine W

    Birth plan, schmirth plan. My girls were born at 23 weeks gestation. I had no plan. I don't think that anybody had a plan.Mighty glad the NICU was there though. Much as I would have loved a normal birth and bonding process, I'm more than happy with one child that survived the whole experience.



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