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Do you have a newborn care plan ready for your new baby?
Most expecting parents are familiar with a birth plan.
Fewer understand the importance of a postpartum plan.
Probably even less have considered a newborn care plan!
FREE PRINTABLE – NEWBORN CARE PLAN!
What is a Newborn Care Plan?
A newborn care plan is a list of baby care preferences that parents have discussed and agreed upon prior to the birth of their baby.
When admitted to the hospital, this list should be included in your patient file along with your birth plan.
Why You Need a Newborn Care Plan
The purpose of this plan is to communicate with hospital staff your wishes about how to care for your baby after birth.
Unfortunately, many parents are unaware that they even have choices regarding the care of their newborn!
In many cases, hospital staff will assume that parents have no opinion about these procedures.
Hospital staff will usually follow the normal newborn protocol without consulting the new parents.
The problem with this approach is that hospital procedures may sometimes interfere with natural mother/baby bonding time as well as the initiation of breastfeeding.
How a Newborn Care Plan Can Help with Infant Bonding
Routine hospital procedures administered shortly after birth can interfere with your baby’s ability to bond and breastfeed. Don’t let this happen!
Many hospitals do a good job of respecting this mother/baby bonding time, but some do not. In this case, you need to speak up and advocate for this time to be respected.
When you have a newborn care plan, you have a much stronger voice! You are also better informed and able to speak more intelligently about your concerns with your care providers.
Even if you do not breastfeed, the initial bonding time with parent and baby should not be missed!
The Importance of Immediate Skin-to-Skin after Birth
If you have a healthy full-term baby and mom, research shows that it is best that she is placed skin-to-skin with mom immediately after birth.
This means that parents may need to speak up in order to facilitate this special bonding time.
If your hospital is not a “Baby Friendly” hospital then it is even more important that you prepare to advocate for your wishes.
Do you want to do immediate skin-to-skin with your baby?
Would you prefer to delay the bath so mom and baby have time to bond?
Would you like to breastfeed your baby within the first hour after birth?
If so, then you absolutely need to have a plan and communicate that plan to hospital staff!
Otherwise, routine procedures will oftentimes interfere with parental wishes.
Why You Want a Baby Friendly Hospital
In 1991, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF established a Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI).
The initiative is a global effort to implement best practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
When a hospital is given the status of “baby friendly”, it means that they follow a set of practices that support breastfeeding.
Examples of such practices include rooming in, immediate skin-to-skin, delaying newborn procedures, not offering formula samples to moms, etc.
I highly recommend seeking out the baby-friendly hospitals in your area! Here is a list of the Baby Friendly Hospitals in the U.S.
Fortunately, there are many hospitals that are not fully BFHI certified but still follow many of the BFHI recommended practices!
Ask your caregiver and get a hospital tour to ask your questions about your hospital’s newborn care policies.
Routine Newborn Procedures
There are several routine procedures that many hospitals will automatically administer to a newborn.
Unless the parents speak up, hospital staff will usually assume that the baby will receive these newborn care procedures within the first hour after birth.
Many of these common practices, however, have been called into question in recent years because new research has emerged which no longer supports them.
The intent of this post is not to convince you that you should or should not allow these procedures.
Instead, I hope to educate you so that you and your partner are aware of them, understand both sides to the debate about them, and can make an informed decision regarding the care of your new baby.
The decision is yours to make, so do your homework and feel good about your decision. Otherwise, the default is to go along with your hospital’s normal protocol.
If you wish to decline the procedures, it’s often quite easy to do so, and usually requires signing a simple waiver.
If this is your intent, make sure that you get these wishes into your birth plan and that you inform your labor nurse before delivery!
You may also opt to delay the procedures. Here’s why…
Consider Delaying Newborn Procedures!
When you write your newborn care plan, I encourage you to consider this fact: After a normal vaginal or cesarean delivery, a full-term infant is in a quiet alert state for the first hour or so.
This is such a precious hour!
It is often referred to as the “Magical Hour” or the “Miracle Hour”, since it is such an amazing time of bonding for parents and baby.
This time is designed by our Creator to allow mom and baby time together… time to bond, gaze into each other’s eyes and a time to initiate breastfeeding. Baby is often very alert and responsive!
After the first hour or so, your baby will likely enter into a very sleepy state. It may be awhile before your baby experiences that alert state again.
Most newborn experts agree that parents need to take full advantage of that time to bond with their newborn.
Unless you have an infant who needs emergency care, most newborn procedures can either be delayed until that first hour is over or performed during the skin-to-skin time.
Communicate Your Wishes in Your Newborn Care Plan
Fortunately, a lot of hospitals now support delaying newborn procedures, but don’t hesitate to let your wishes be known, if not!
Review this list of the 9 most common newborn procedures offered in most U.S. hospitals as well as some pros and cons of each procedure:
9 Most Common Routine Hospital Newborn Procedures that You May Wish to Reconsider
1. Bulb Suctioning
Bulb suctioning of newborns is pretty standard in most U.S. hospitals. The reasoning behind immediate suctioning is that it prevents fluid aspiration into the lungs.
This may be necessary for some babies. However, this practice is not evidence-based and there is sufficient evidence to suggest that this procedure is not necessary for normal, healthy newborns.
Further studies support the theory that it can actually interrupt the baby’s normal ability to adjust in the first few minutes after birth. Here is another similar study.
2. Immediate Cord Clamping
This practice is getting a lot of attention in recent years! Many U.S. hospitals will immediately clamp the newborn’s umbilical cord to stop the flow of blood from the mother’s placenta.
But, there is lots of new research that refutes this practice. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now support the practice of delayed cord clamping.
Here is a well-written post that goes into depth about the benefits of delayed cord clamping. The article debunks the myths that surround this long-time practice. I suggest you read it!
3. Baby Hat
Most newborns get a hat immediately after birth too. This practice began as a way to keep in baby’s body heat. Sounds reasonable! Why not?
While this may not seem like a big deal, believe it or not, there is research to suggest otherwise! Well, this is probably the least invasive of the procedures. Still, some parents prefer “au naturelle” so they can smell and kiss their newborn baby’s head unobstructed.
If you are a “crunchy” mom, you may also object to the fact that these hats are usually made from synthetic fabric. Not an ideal thing to slap onto a new baby’s delicate head.
Bringing your own organic cotton hat is preferred by some parents. It is also perfectly fine to go without a hat. Depending on the temperature of the room, mom’s body (plus a blanket) is usually plenty warm for most babies!
While I am usually a big fan of swaddling, not immediately after birth!
Research shows that skin-to-skin contact with mom is what is best. Mom’s body is baby’s natural habitat! When a baby is placed skin-to-skin with mama, all his senses are activated! He can feel her, smell her and taste her in a way that is very familiar and comforting to him.
Skin-to-skin contact with mom helps a baby regulate his breathing, heart rate and body temperature almost immediately! It calms a fussy baby and helps him feel safe and secure.
Another great benefit is that is helps baby initiate breastfeeding on his own within the first hour!
Fortunately, most hospitals today are starting to encourage skin-to-skin immediately after birth, but you may still need to push for it.
If the hospital staff swaddle your baby, don’t be afraid to unwrap him and place him skin-to-skin on your chest for some great bonding and snuggle time.
Some hospitals will now even allow moms to have skin-to-skin time after a cesarean birth! If you request help holding the baby, they may honor your request as long as you and baby are stable.
Don’t be afraid to speak up!
5. Eye ointment
Erythromycin eye ointment is now standard for all newborn babies in the U.S. This treatment prevents babies from contracting an eye infection called ophthalmia neonatorum (ON).
This infection is usually caused by an STD and can lead to blindness in babies. The most common cause of ON is chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection. (Source) The ointment is administered soon after birth – sometimes within the first hour.
Many new parents decide to forgo this ointment if they feel that they are low or no-risk. Like most medications, there are risks involved, so talk to your doctor with your questions about erythromycin.
Here is a great article with evidence-based information to help you decide if erythromycin would be helpful for your baby.
If you decide to go ahead with the erythromycin eye ointment, request that it be administered while baby is on your chest (after the first hour). The heated lights of the baby warmer mixed with the ointment can be irritating to baby’s eyes.
The ointment is also thought to temporarily blur baby’s vision, interfering with mother/baby bonding time!
6. Vitamin K
Vitamin K shots are routinely administered (in the U.S.) to newborn babies to help with blood clotting.
In rare cases, (1.8 out of 100,000) babies suffer permanent injury or death due to uncontrolled bleeding in the brain that may be the result of having extremely low levels of vitamin K in their systems.
Here is another routine newborn treatment that is debated by parents and caregivers. Is the vitamin K shot really necessary? Are there alternatives to the shot? I encourage you to do your research about this since it is a rather complicated issue.
Critics of the vitamin K shot argue that mega doses of synthetic vitamin K may not be safe for a newborn. If you are interested in an oral vitamin K alternative, find out more here.
If you want to dig deeper, I found this great article that presents BOTH sides to this issue and really helps parents understand this rare condition, as well as the debate about this procedure.
I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions!
7. Hep B vaccine
When considering this vaccine, remember that the healthcare system is trying to take care of the general population. If you have tested negative for Hep B during your pregnancy and you feel confident that your baby is at low risk for contracting hepatitis B, then you may wish to pass on this vaccine.
It’s always best to consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before making these decisions for your newborn care plan.
8. Weight and measurements
As excited as we are to know our baby’s weight and height, it just isn’t a priority in the grand scheme of things!
Breastfeeding and bonding need to be #1 priority within that first hour. Like many of these procedures, weight and measurements can wait!
While bathing the baby may seem like a reasonable thing to do, there are several good reasons to delay or avoid the newborn bath altogether.
Baby’s Body Temperature
One big reason is that a bath can interfere with your baby’s ability to regulate his body temperature. I have seen several babies who needed to be warmed up following a bath due to low body temperature.
Stress to Baby
It can also cause stress to your baby who already has a lot of adjusting to do outside the womb. Bathing a baby within the first hour is so disruptive to the normal progression of things!
A bath upsets and overstimulates the baby. By the time he goes back to mom to breastfeed, he is exhausted and disinterested in nursing. 🙁
Another concern is that hospitals usually use products that contain chemicals, parabens, or fragrances.
If you want to bathe your baby, consider bringing your own natural baby soap or shampoo. I like this brand. It can double as shampoo and bath soap and is safe and gentle. There are no toxic foaming agents, so don’t worry if you don’t see bubbles!
In addition, the vernix covering your baby’s skin is there for a reason!
Vernix has many benefits to your baby. It acts as an antimicrobial, defending baby against infections. It’s also a great moisturizer.
Instead of washing it off, rub it in and allow your baby to benefit from this natural skin balm.
Finally, our skin contains good bacteria so we don’t want to wash this off with soap and water frequently, especially in newborns who benefit from the beneficial skin bacteria while populating their gut flora.
*Disclaimer – The information in the post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. Please make sure that you do your own research and talk with your baby’s doctor about these procedures before deciding on your newborn care plan. It is important that you feel good about your decisions regarding your baby’s care.
Speaking of newborn care plan, have you registered yet for your childbirth classes? There are so many GREAT options available for new parents now. Read this post to find out more about great childbirth class options! This is also a great time to plan for your postpartum recovery time! Find out more about a postpartum plan here.
FREE Printable Newborn Care Plan Worksheet!
Do you have a newborn care plan? If not, I have created a great free resource for you! Download and print this “Newborn Care Plan Worksheet” and use it as a springboard for your discussions. You can either print a copy for the hospital, or write up a summary to bring along in your hospital bag. Make sure you show it to your nurses along with your birth plan. If you have a doula, she can also help make your wishes known to hospital staff. It is also a good idea to discuss this plan with your midwife or doctor during your third trimester!
FREE Planning Resources for Your New Baby!
If you are pregnant, this is the time to begin planning for your new baby’s arrival! What do you include on your baby registry checklist? How do you write a birth plan? How do you hire a doula? Who will be helping you during your recovery time? What should you include in your postpartum plan? How about a newborn care plan? How do you set up a meal train? What are some easy freezer meals to make ahead? What should you pack in your hospital bag? These are just a sampling of the kind of planning you will need to do!
How to Plan for Your New Baby!
But don’t get overwhelmed! In this post, I hold your hand through all the steps! The work of planning isn’t really so bad because I have compiled some great FREE resources for you here.
You can also download these free worksheets and email courses to get you started with all your planning needs!
How to Write a Postpartum Plan – FREE Email Course!
This FREE email mini-course was written by a certified postpartum doula!
It includes TONS of free resources, a postpartum planning worksheet packet, plus links to lots of other helpful pregnancy, postpartum and newborn care resources.
It includes tips for planning your “baby moon”, getting your home organized, writing your postpartum plan, finding help, pre-baby shopping lists, strategies for better postpartum sleep and much more!
How to Write a Newborn Care Plan
Many new parents don’t know about the importance of a newborn care plan. If you are planning a hospital birth, this plan walks you through all the important decisions you will need to make regarding the care of your new baby.
Your Pregnancy Week-by-Week Planning Checklist!
Wow! This is such a great resource for pregnant mamas! Subscribe to Alli’s and Trina’s amazing FREE new mom planning course and get weekly email updates and reminders so you can stay on course and plan for your new baby. Type in your due date and email address and you’re all set! Their weekly emails will both inspire and motivate you as you get ready for the big day!
The Nesting Planner – My Favorite Pregnancy Planner!
Although not free, this affordable planner is one that I want to bring to your attention. As a postpartum doula, I am VERY excited to recommend this great planning resource! Why? Because I have witnessed so many new moms who are not prepared for their postpartum recovery and consequently have a much more difficult time recovering and adjusting to motherhood.
The Nesting Planner is a complete planner for pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding and newborn care. It is loaded with printable checklists, worksheets and other planning tools. It will help you get organized and stay on track throughout your entire pregnancy. You will never miss a step with monthly checklists and reminders that easily itemize what must be done before the big day! Check out the Nesting Planner here.