The first edition in this Tools Of My Trade series, speaks to the tools that midwives always carry and have available, These Hands. I invite you to start this series at the beginning and read it first. This next installment will focus on the parent-baby connection as fostered by midwifery and midwives.
One hallmark of the Midwifery Model of Care coupled with birth in the community setting is the practice of true and immediate skin to skin care between the newborn and the birthing person. The pregnant body; beginning in the womb and then after birth and beyond is the first home that we as humans experience. The Mohawk Midwife, Katsi Cook , expresses this concept beautifully when she says “Woman is the first environment. In pregnancy our bodies sustain life. At the breast of women, the generations are nourished.” What more perfect place could there be for our newborns than nestled into their first environment?
As is often the case, practices that are central to Midwifery and the Midwifery Model of Care have been backed up scientific inquiry and study. Immediate and sustained skin to skin care (SSC) is one these practices. SSC helps the baby to stabilize body temperature, regulate breathing, decreases stress hormones, helps to maintain blood pressure and decrease crying time while increasing the time spent alert and awake. (Whew, that is quite the mouthful of delicious benefits!) SSC also increases breastfeeding initiation rates as well as overall length of breastfeeding and serves to enhance parental attachment to the newborn. But don’t just take my word for it, you can read about these benefits here and here. In essence, what often needs to happen is simply get out of the way; to not cause interruption in the physiologic course of the postpartum period. So, without further ado, please enjoy one of my favorite midwifery tools….
Tools Of My Trade #2: Baby Blankets
These baby blankets have helped to welcome countless a new babe to the world.
They are warm, fluffy and soft. Many of them have been brought in, from home, by our own
nurses, midwives and other staff, as well as from our families. They have been well loved and cared for. Others have
been purchased especially for the center. These blankets are kept, folded, and ready in a warming drawer. As the birth time approaches, we turn on the drawer, and thus have toasty warm and
cozy blankets for the babes. All of our babes are kept skin to skin with their
parents, so these baby blankets are placed over the babe and parent together.
Enveloping them in warmth and freshness.
Image credit Aubre Tompkins