Thursday, July 14, 2005

What Delivery and Recovery are like at Kätilöopisto

Our Peanut was born at Kätilöopisto in Helsinki and a recent visit to friends who just had a lovely baby daughter reminded me of our stay there.

A few memories that came to mind

Delivery Preparation
> When we arrived, we went to a waiting wing since labor had not yet started. It was busy enough that we had to share a room with another couple also waiting for labor to progress. We chose to go take a walk to help us relax. The midwives asked only that we let them know when we leave and return. Sharing the room was rather uncomfortable and luckily for that night we were able to make use of another room they reserve for observation.
> During the time there, midwives check in periodically and used a machine to measure the timing and intensity of contractions and the babies heartbeat. Usually the measurements took about 20 mins during which you had to stay close to the machine (sitting or standing was fine).
> The doctors make their rounds in the morning and suggest actions (in our case it was a prescription for a move to the delivery wing and insertion of an oxytocin drip to help start the contractions and a fetal heartbeat monitor attached to Peanut's head)
> I was offered an enema.

> Our delivery room contained a delivery table and rocking chair as well as a bathroom with a shower. There was also a dispenser for nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and equipment again for monitoring the contractions and baby's heartbeat.
> The midwives also brought in a birthing ball at my request.
> When we met the midwives, we presented our birth plan and reviewed it with them. We had to do this with several shifts of midwives.
> You are welcome to labor in any position, posture, etc that you want. Even the delivery can take place either on the bed in whichever position is most comfortable or a on a birthing stool on the floor. The midwives were very helpful in trying out several options.
> If you want an epidural, be sure to make your wished known well in advance of when you think you will need it. It takes time to bring in the ansthesiologist and to prep you for its insertion. The epidural is not instantaneous, but takes effect over a few minutes (ie more contractions!). The epidural usually lasts for 1.5 - 2 hours after which the midwives like for it to wear off completely and letting you labor for a while before topping it off. After the third refill, we were beginning to wonder if it was time to consider a C-section since I was getting tired (and had a fever for which they gave panadol), but the midwives said they prefer to try and give it a bit longer. The big surprise was that they do not want to give you an epidural as you enter the final stretch (no pun intended)!!! The reason is that the actual pushing phase is more effective if you can feel the contractions and can push with them. And, honestly, the pain at that point was not 'pain' as much as a sensation of muscles working to move the baby.
> The laughing gas is available for your use as a pain reliever whenever you want.
> After the baby is born and her nose/mouth are cleared, she is placed immediately in your lap for you to hold her skin-to-skin as they (or dad) cut the umbilical cord and carry out a few other tasks (I'm not sure what all happened down there in addition to a sample of Peanut's blood being taken since I'm Rh negative).
> Dad and the midwife then moved to the other side of the room to bathe, measure and bundle her. Her hospital band was also put on and she receives her Vitamin K injection.
> Another midwife helped me to the hospital bed where the placenta was delivered with some assistance. You can have a look at it if you like. The midwives assess its condition and take it away.
> Then with the numbing assistance of an antiseptic spray, the midwife stitched me up.
> An assitant midwife came in to help me to the shower and to put on a clean set of hospital clothes.
> In the meantime, dad is encouraged to hold the new bundle of baby and in the background paper work is being filled out.
> The assistant midwife returned with a cart of food - sandwiches, yoghurt, cookies and juice. I was surprisingly not very hungry...
> Suddenly after all the hustle and bustle, we found ourselves alone with Peanut. They gave us about 30 - 45 mins of quiet time before asking if we were ready to move to the recovery ward.
> Our midwife escorted us and our rolling baby basket to the fourth floor.

Recovery Time
> it was also busy there so we did not immediately get a family room where dad could have stayed overnight and instead had to share a room with another mom and fresh arrival (with a set of lungs!). We did immediately put our names on the list for a family room when one became available.
> I remember laying in bed with Peanut in her clear plastic basket next to me watching her through the night. All babies room-in because they want mothers and fathers to get used to life with baby right off the bat rather than having a shock when they go home alone. On one hand a good idea, but it would have been nice to have one last night of rest! If the baby is particularily fussy and crying alot, you can request to have it moved to a 'nursery' for a few hours.
> A nurse came in to quickly review the basics, gave me the blue handbook to babies and brought me a canister of water.
> The call buttom was right next to the bed and help with anything was at the other end (from diaper changing to breastfeeding, etc).
> Meal time was held in the common area. An announcement over the intercom reminded you to come for breakfast, lunch, afternoon coffee (!!), dinner and an evening snack. At first I wasn't sure what to do with Peanut during the meals - most mothers roll their baby cribs with them. Peanut slept so I just went out and brought the tray to our room. After every meal you had to drop your namecard back in the box to make sure you got a serving of the next delicious course. If you have a family room, the dad also gets his own namecard.
> the hospital gowns and robes all new moms are wearing as they wander the halls. They come in three colors - hot pink, baby blue and hospital green - and have a nifty row of buttons all the way to the bottom, making it easy for breastfeeding. They also provide socks and slippers, but its recommended you bring your own slippers --> more comfortable :-)
> and the special underwear! How can I accurately describe them? Imagine these currently popular 'boyshorts' underwear made out of a stretchy white mesh fabric with thick green seams on the sides. Available for all new moms. They were comfortable and airy that's for sure. At Kätilöopisto they are not disposable, but once used are washed and available for pick up in the bins in the hallway.
> In the common area where baby kits from Libero diapers that you could pick up for free.
> Dismissal comes after you've been cleared by the doctor :-)

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