I stopped by the labor and delivery floor of the hospital connected to my OB's office today. A very nice nurse was kind enough to give me a quick tour and answer some questions. The good news was most of my labor options are up to me and my OB, like being able to eat or drink during labor, getting into the jacuzzi, or what monitoring I'd prefer. That was all great news as I vetted my new doctor with great care and I adore her. The not so good news was what happens to baby boy after being born at this hospital. I had the following eye opening conversation with the very nice nurse.
Nurse: We allow* the baby to stay in the room with you for about an hour and then we take him over to the nursery for four to six hours, for his first bath and tests while you recover.
Me: What do they do that takes four to six hours?
Nurse: We do a vitamin K injection and the Hepatitis B vaccine, PKU Screen and eye ointment, all according to your pediatrician's orders of course. Then we give baby a bath and put baby under the heat lamps to warm up and regulate body temperature. You know clean baby up, put a little hat on and blanket before bringing baby back.
Me: Wait, the nurses give the baby his first bath? Why not the parents?
Nurse: Well sometimes you can ask the nurses on staff and they'll let you participate**, otherwise you or a family member can certainly come down and watch through the glass.
Me: So, why does the baby need to have his body temperature regulated?
Nurse: After the bath they are cold and are wet and so we put them in the warmer to get their body temperatures back up. It can sometimes take a few hours.
Me: Why don't they do that in the room with me if there's a warmer in each room or better yet, why don't they just put the baby on me so I can warm him up while nursing?
Nurse: Well, again it depends on who's on that day, you can certainly ask them, but most of the time you really need some time to recover and we need to monitor the baby closely, so it's best to let the nurses do their job***.
Me: Ok, how about giving the baby a bottle? Last time the hospital did it despite my instructions not to. I plan to breast feed.
Nurse: Well, if the baby's blood sugars are low, we do give a bottle of sugar water to get them back up to speed.
Me: But if you let the mother nurse instead of making the baby wait for six hours won't that automatically keep the blood sugars up?
Nurse: Well, you know usually your milk doesn't come in for a few days.****
Me: Ok, thanks, I think those are all the questions I needed answered.
*Yes, she really used the word "allow" and it made me bristle.
** Again with the "letting" and "allowing"! While we leave the treatment of my newborn son and my participation or non-participation of his first moments all up to the random chance of who's on call and what mood she's in. I may get to watch through the glass. Good grief.
***In other words, you are asking hard questions and now I must make you feel silly so you'll shut up.
****I guess this nurse never heard of Colostrum.
So to paraphrase the whole conversation, she told me "Your baby will be born and whisked away for our nurses to wash off all the natural protective moisturizer he's born with, under cool water, perform a shit load of unnecessary tests and vaccines that one should actually wait to do and then plop him alone under a heat lamp like a Chicken McNugget while we don't feed him. After a few hours we'll give him a bottle of sugar water to correct the starvation we just imposed, totally derailing your efforts to breast feed. But he'll be fashion forward in a cute knitted hat, shiny clean and you should be all rested up in six hours!"
I will tour a different hospital next week.
I found this amazing resource GivingBirthNaturally.com that helped me learn about the mystery of this lost six hours. These are the things they do not tell you in the hospital birthing class.