Why Birth First Aid?

Posted by on Oct 24, 2022 in Writings

Why Birth First Aid?

The First Time I Ever Resuscitated a Baby on my own

I remember the first time I had to resuscitate a baby on my own.

It had been a fairly average first labour.

It started in the middle of the night and trotted along into the new day. The mother was surprised at the intensity of the surges but she rode them quietly and stoically. 

The emergence of the baby was slow and as her mother crouched, she was born gently onto the floor onto a soft pile of towels. 

Some mothers scoop their babies up immediately, while others take their time, looking, smelling, and touching. Still, others need to take their time, first processing the enormity of the event before being able to look and engage.

As long as the space is warm and the mother and baby are left undisturbed all are variations of normal.

In this case, the mother was slow to interact with her baby, I believe she was initially taken aback at the sight of her newborn.

It became evident that this baby was not responding after being born, not showing much muscle tone and not breathing.

Helping Babies Breathe

I had recently been trained in the Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) programme as a facilitator through Operation Smile and worked as a volunteer for some of their educational missions in Africa.

What I love about this programme is its simplicity: its focus on normal birth, preparedness, its understanding for working in low-resourced and out-of-hospital settings, as well as the all important MotherBaby needs like skin-to-skin and not cutting the umbilical cord.

As a skilled birth attendant, you make a difference

In the HBB programme, we are taught that the majority of babies are totally fine at birth and require little more than skin-to-skin contact with their mother – but that around 10% require gentle assistance in transitioning from womb life. These are some of the skills we will be focusing on in the upcoming Birth First Aid series of workshops that I will be offering for the month of November. Extreme neonatal resuscitation is rare in healthy pregnancies and births and usually is an indicator of some other underlying issue.

Why Birth First Aid?

If we are attending births on a regular basis, especially when a birth is left to unfold as it should, we come into contact with the beauty and simplicity that is birth and we receive the regular imprint that birth works and that birth is safe. But every once in a while, nature throws us a curve ball, and in the same way as we expect someone who works with children to be prepared if a child chokes, we want to be prepared for those rare times when a mother or baby does require assistance. 

In the case of the birth I was describing at the beginning of this post/letter – it felt clear that this baby was struggling. Muscle memory from my HBB training kicked in, and with her cord still attached and intact, between her mother’s legs on the floor, we worked together to gently remind her that she needed to breathe.

And she did…

I invite you to join us 

We will be gathering weekly for the month of November on these dates:

2, 9, 16, and 23 November 2022

via zoom

from 11am – 2pm SAST (GMT+2)

COST: 130 Euro / 130 USD / 1250 ZAR

All sessions will be recorded and made available to you for one month after the call

For more information or to book your place please email me at truemidwife@gmail.com

What we will cover over the four sessions:

  • Helping Babies Breathe and Helping Mothers Survive philosophy
  • Creating and maintaining the basic needs of the mother and baby in an emergency situation
  • How to create an emergency care plan (without it causing too much adrenaline!) and support transfer to the hospital
  • Helping babies who are struggling to breathe at birth
  • Dealing with more than normal blood loss after birth
  • Preventing and dealing with shoulder dystocia
  • Cord Prolapse
  • Surprise breech
  • Herbs and homoeopathy to support the above 
  • Storytelling, sharing and learning from one another’s experiences
  • Our own recovery (mental, emotional and physical) 
  • Creating a support network

This course is aimed at those attending births at home, in whatever capacity, but is also relevant to any setting and birth plan.