Rest After Sweet Pea Arrives
Sweet Pea Births - ...celebrating every sweet pea and their birth
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Sweet Peas, Pods & Papas: All About Birth, B@@bs & Babies

Rest After Sweet Pea Arrives

Bradley Method® Mom and BabyLast night’s topic was Writing Your Birth Plan.  Since we have written about this a couple of times recently (click
for writing a Birth Plan and click
here to read about different styles of Birth Plans), I am going to answer an interesting question that came up during class that took us a little off-topic from Birth-Plans to Post-Partum Plans.  It was worthwhile answering so here are some thoughts.

Question from a mom in class:  "What happens if I am so excited after the birth of our baby that I can’t sleep or get any rest for several hours?"

Answer:  There is a natural "high" that happens when you are holding your baby for the first time.  You are excited to meet your child, giddy at your accomplishment as a couple...this excitement makes it almost impossible to sleep or keep from gazing at your baby.  The accompanying picture in today's post is a perfect example of an ecstatic mother who is not going to sleep anytime soon!

When you nurse, and most of the moms we teach bring the baby right to the breast after they are born, the body is designed to make oxytocin, a love hormone; to keep the uterus contracting to expel the placenta and shrink the uterus to naturally decrease the amount of blood mom is losing.  It also helps the body express milk.  Mom’s body is also making prolactin, the mothering hormone, to bond her to her baby.  There is a third hormone, called cholecystokinin (CCK) that induces sleepiness in both the baby and the mother.  (See  references [1] and [2] below.)

Now why doesn’t CKK work right after the birth of the baby?  My guess is that you are so excited that nothing natural could induce you to go to sleep in the first hours when you are meeting your child.  Whether you are a first-time parent or whether is an additional blessing, each child is new, unique and worthy of all the attention you want to shower on him or her.  You spend time looking at their face, their ears, their toes, their fingers, marveling at their little fingernails, and then there is their wonderful newborn scent…you sit in awe of this wonderful creation that is part you, part your spouse and all blessing from our Creator.

Let’s accept then, that in all likelihood, you are not going to be able to sleep for several hours – what do you do?

First of all, make sure that mom gets a meal and plenty of fluid.  This is important to refuel her body after the work she has done.  Unmedicated moms have probably not eaten in several hours because the body shuts down the desire to eat as the labor intensifies.   From our own experience and from the experiences that our students relay to us, unmedicated moms are ravenous after the work of labor.

Whatever your birth story, it is also important to get mom a drink that replaces and restores electrolytes, potassium and sugar to mom’s system.  The traditional Bradley Method® celebratory drink is orange juice.  After that, make sure that mom gets plenty of water.  Besides replacing and restoring the fluids she has lost, fluid is an important component of milk supply.  It makes sense – to make fluid, you need fluid to spare to begin with.

In a hospital setting, it’s important for coaches to set the tone in the hospital room.  Nurses have their schedules and their reports they need to fill out.  How is mom doing?  Is the uterus shrinking?  Does she show any signs of developing blood clots?  How is the baby doing?  Is the baby getting enough to eat?  How many wet diapers and how many stool diapers?  What are the vital readings (temperature/pulse/blood pressure) on mom and baby?  All of these are important things to gauge in order to head off any impending detours down the path to a bad outcome after the birth of your baby.

As a coach, it is your role to ask if the interruption is absolutely necessary, or can they wait until mom and baby wake up?  Is there anything else they can do that is non-invasive to confirm that mom and baby are okay instead of waking them up?  Keeping the lights off or low and closing the blinds to keep the room create a sleep environment to encourage mom and baby to sleep.  A dark room also indicates to the staff that you are probably asleep and maybe they should come back later.

In the case of a homebirth, a couple has an interesting dilemma.  You are at home – so people can easily find you and the baby.  I would still encourage you to talk about what your comfort level is with the frequency and the amount of visitors to your home in the first hours of your child's life.

In regards to visitors and their tendency to interrupt rest periods: 
As a couple, you need to decide what to tell people when you call them to announce the arrival of your little sweet pea.  If you want to keep visitors to a minimum, that is your prerogative and we encourage you to go with it!  Given our experience with germs and how devastating they can be to an infant, we have no problem telling people to wait a couple of weeks to come visit.  By this time we are home and settling into a routine.  You will have a better idea when people can come visit. 

If you are okay with people holding your baby, have them come when the baby is awake, usually right before they nurse.  If you only want people to look at your baby, have them come when the baby is sleeping - then they can take a peek while you hold them or they sleep in a crib or bassinet, and you can tell them all about your birth story and catch up on life in the outside world.

Wherever you birth, be it a hospital, birth center or at home, decide what you want to do and let your friends and family know ahead of time so that there are no surprises and no hurt feelings the day of your sweet pea’s birth.  Someone is bound to be offended or misunderstand your intentions if decide to ask people to wait to visit.  Give them time to think about your motivation, and it is likely that they will come to understand that your mindset lies in protecting your baby, not necessarily keeping people away.

Whether you are at home or in the hospital when people come visit, remind them to wear clean clothes and to wash their hands before they come in contact with the baby.  Some germs have a surprisingly long life and can live on your clothes as well as your skin. [3] At a minimum, people should put on a clean shirt and practice good hand washing techniques. [4]

Additionally, here is a link to a poster you can print and place in all the bathrooms in your home. [5] This has pictures as well as words.  It’s never too early to start training your little ones in good hand washing practices so that they can have healthier, more productive lives. 

I hope these thoughts give you a starting to point to make a post-partum plan for your family.  It is okay to be super-excited after the birth of your child – you have been waiting anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks to meet them!  The important thing to do is to eat, drink and rest when you can so you all stay healthy and enjoy their newborn days.   

[1] Non-nutritional aspects of breastfeeding:

[2] Breastfeeding and sleepiness:

3] Germy Surfaces

[4] Hand washing saves lives

[5] Hand washing poster

The material included on this site and blog is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This site and blog contain information relevant to our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained in this site and blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

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