Today we went to our first cours de preparation pour naissance (birth preparation course) with one of our hospital’s puéricultrices (children’s doctor). This is an optional class that is covered by social security and I definitely recommend you taking advantage of it! We ended up being a group of about 8 women and 2 men – nice that my husband was not the only man in there.
The puéricultrice began by discussing what we should expect when arriving at the hospital on the big day. I knew most of the information already from discussions with our hospital’s sage-femmes (midwives), but picked up some important new information. I was also very comforted by the puericultrice’s attitude towards natural births and stepping back with little intervention. This hospital’s policies are very in line to what I would experience at a birthing center – which is a relief.
When the baby is born, she will stay with me for 2 hours of uninterrupted time. We will have skin-to-skin contact as we bond and she nurses for the first time. The umbilical cord will remain uncut until it stops beating. My husband can choose to cut the umbilical cord as long as it is a normal birth. If the baby is born with it wrapped around her head or something to that nature, then the doctor will cut it instead. My husband is not sure yet if he will want to do it or not. I kind of hope he does, but I can definitely understand his hesitation.
I learned from a previous appointment with a sage-femme that they will give me oxytocin after she is born as a preventative to bleeding. She took note of my desire to not receive it a preventative (only if needed) in my birth plan but said that the doctor may still give it to me. One of the items we are supposed to bring is a blanket. A sage-femme will wrap our baby in the blanket before leaving us alone and then dress her in one of the outfits we brought when she returns. Be sure to receive your hospital’s checklist of items to bring.
If she is born by a c-section, I will be separated from her for about two hours. During this time, my husband is able to stay with her while I recover. As soon as I am ready, they will come and join me. I really hope that I do not have a c-section though! I have a huge aversion to surgery. I also have an anterior placenta, so it makes the procedure a bit more dangerous.
The puéricultrice recommended that we do not have visitors on our first day with the baby. She believes that it is important for the mother to focus her limited energy on recovering and to bond with the baby, not to entertain guests and having the baby in hands other than those of the new parents. It is also a lot for a newborn to take in right away – everyone holding her and all the excitement. So depending on the hour that she is born, either we will only invite my in-laws to meet her within hours of her being born or will ask everyone to stop by the next day. We will see how things go.
The morning after she is born we will be visited by a puéricultrice to see how she is doing. Her temperature, weight and vitals will be recorded. If she is under or over weight then they may also do a blood test to make sure her sugar levels are okay. I will be given a paper to record every time she eats, pees or poops. This way they can make sure everything is normal.
The next day will be her first bath. They do not want to give the first bath on the same day as the doctor appointment because it is too much for her to handle – they do not want to stress the baby. Her first bath will be around 8:30am and they recommend that only one of us takes responsibility for baths throughout our stay at the hospital (about 4 or 5 days). My husband will most likely be the one that will do this. The bath station has room for two parent/baby combos. She said it was a nice way for the new parents to talk to each other and socialize while giving the baby a bath. A sage-femme will be there to show how to properly bathe the baby. I may have to ask the sage-femme to take a photo of my husband doing this for the first time! He will look so cute with our little princess.
I also learned that my husband will be able to stay the night one time while I am there. They will bring a cot into the room for him. Also, if I want a night free of the baby to get a full night’s rest, one of the sage-femmes will babysit. However, if she is crying and food or changing the diaper does not fix the problem, they will bring her back to me. Sometimes a newborn can only be consoled by mamma. A girl in our group said that a hospital nearby gives the baby a type of tea to make her sleep instead of giving the newborn back to the mother. I definitely prefer to be woken up than for my little girl to be given tea.
Again, this class is free and is very useful in understanding the hospital’s policies and what to expect during and after giving birth. I truly recommend you go to it! Even if you think you know everything, you never know what you will pick up during this session. We had two mothers in our group that have already given birth before. It was also nice to have them there since they asked excellent questions that us newbies would not have thought of.
Then the icing on the cake was when we were walking back to the elevators and saw an adorable little newborn in the nursery. Her eyes were wide open and tiny hands moving gently around her face. My husband gave me a little kiss on the cheek. In only 4 weeks we will be here with our little girl.
Image Credit: Adam Borkowski at Fotolia.com