Recently I had my first 'real' experience with neonatal resuscitation. I have attended over 250 births and have seen many floppy and unresponsive babies, but this birth showed me what a baby with a 0 Apgar looks and acts like right after its born.
The birth journey for this mom and baby was a very long, emotional experience and the pushing phase lasted for over an hour. Despite the baby's consistently good fetal heart tones he was born and made no attempts at breathing or responding to touch or talking. I immediately shifted into 'resuscitation mode' and began talking to him and telling him how much we loved and needed him while I intermittently gave him mouth to mouth. With each breath I breathed into him he would respond with a sigh and a grimace. I could tell that my breath was helping him make the transition to air breathing and so I continued giving him puffs of air and alot of verbal encouragement. After about 6 or 8 breaths into his lungs he began to pink up and perk up and open his eyes. We wrapped him in warm, out of the oven, towels and put a stocking cap on his head. His mom and dad continued to shower him with love and I put him on oxygen for the next 15 minutes. I allowed his umbilical cord to remain intact until it was done pulsating and the blood had all flowed into his little body. Cutting his cord early would have been detrimental to his resuscitation efforts because it would have cut off his lifeline to the oxygen in his bloodstream that he was still receiving from his mother's placenta. A half hour after his birth he was stable and pink and crying and seemed to be more 'in his skin' than ever before.
I recently attended a neonatal resuscitation workshop in Las Vegas for the second time from a dear friend and midwife, Karen Strange. She teaches midwives the medical method of resuscitation with a wonderful twist. She believes that resuscitation not only involves the physical aspect of what bodies need, but it also includes the emotional, too. She teaches that while you are physically giving the baby breath you should also be talking to them and supporting them through the experience emotionally as well. Without her wisdom and wonderful way of teaching I wouldn't have had the confidence or knowledge to be as successful as I was during this last birth. With the training she gave me I was able to be aware of the baby's complete needs and address them confidently. Her workshops are invaluable and I recommend them to anyone who needs to be trained in resuscitation. Her website is; www.newbornbreath.com.
This experience has opened me and made me ever aware of the power and strength the human breath holds. Breathing life into this baby who was unable to do it for himself was humbling and awe-inspiring. It didn't take much effort on my part to breathe my life force into this new soul, but it did take much emotion and introspection to say what he needed to hear so that he could make the decision to come into his body and breathe. I fully believe babies in the womb and newly born are complete beings with emotions, personalities and feelings. If we acknowledge this when they are in our care then they will trust what role we play when they are born and, if a situation arises, the baby will feel more supported and loved by its caregivers and the experience will be that much more successful for everyone.
This was another life changing birth for not only me, but for the family, too. If we had not trusted in natural birth and the body's ability to do what its supposed to then we could've missed this awesome journey. I am humbled and inspired and continue to be amazed at what birth teaches.