C-19 Updates in our Local Birth & Postpartum Care

Here’s a list of updates for the RGH Labour/Birth Unit and Mother/Baby Units. These are significant. Anything is subject to change. 
 
Some tips for navigating this journey without your extra support people:  
  1. Article: How to Set Up your Birth Room (i.e. What Your Doula Would Normally Do!)
  2. Easing Labour Pain: An online 2-hr class this weekend (Sunday at 1:30) that teaches partners how to provide hands-on birth-support, comfort, and decrease labour pain.
  3. If anyone’s looking for online prenatal classes or virtual hospital tours, check out my site. I teach all the sessions live but online so you can ask questions.

I’ve been keeping in touch with the good people managing the units at RGH. 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐚𝗻 𝘂𝗽𝗱𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝐑𝐆𝐇 𝐋𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐫/𝐁𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐡 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐌𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫/𝐁𝐚𝐛𝐲 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐬, 𝐝𝐮𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐂-𝟏𝟗.
Any of these may change.

Highlights & What’s New

◆ The health region is not on the same timeline as the SK gov’t. Restrictions are still in place at health care facilities. Only ONE support person for the entire process, from admission to discharge. i.e. whoever attends the birth also stays in MBU. No swapping. No visitors.

◆ Labouring women do not need to wear a mask IF they pass screening.

◆ Partners/support persons will be provided with a mask at the entry doors. It can only be removed once they’re in their own birth or mother-baby room. (Bring a big paperclip or string if you want to save sore ears.) Check out these tips for saving your ears from mask-pain.

◆ You’ll see staff wearing masks throughout your stay.

◆ There was a news report that pregnant women in SK will undergo testing for C-19, but that has not trickled down to local practice at this time.

◆ Everyone is screened at the doors; ER screening includes temperature. Staff is aware of allergy season and will screen appropriately.

◆ Bring in only what you would normally bring for your birth. Partner will be given a band so they can go to car later for extras and car-seat. You are still allowed to bring your pillow, clothing etc – whatever you need for comfort.

◆ Nitrous-oxide (“laughing”) gas is available for pain management.

◆ If you or baby are at high-risk for birth complications, you may be asked to use an epidural during labour to avoid the need for a general anaesthetic in case of an urgent/stat caesarean. Best to discuss this with your OB ahead of time so you can learn your options and make a plan.

◆ No one in Regina area is renting birth pools. Midwives are not loaning theirs out. If you have your own then waterbirth at home is still an option.

◆ Food outlets in RGH are open for take-out. You may meet someone at the main doors for food delivery.

◆ Breastfeeding is still being supported at RGH.

◆ There are plans and protocols in place so that mother-baby can stay together if mom is at risk or has symptoms of C-19 in the immediate postpartum.

◆ Even though some community restrictions are being lifted, great care should be taken with newborns once the family is home. Physical distancing and being only with members of the same household are still recommended. Anyone who enters the house can bring in pathogens/bugs.

Other things still happening from previous update:

𝐏𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐞
● Pregnant women attend appointments, diagnostics (ultrasound, lab) solo. Routine appointments might be done over the phone or spaced out. High-risk and special circumstances will still get the extra care they need.
● Midwifery offices are doing the discussion part of the consult by phone and then a quick in-person appointment for the hands-on part. They prefer pregnant patients attend alone but will allow partners. No other family members/friends/support are allowed.
● Anyone under midwifery or GP care who tests positive for C-19 at any point in their pregnant, birth or postpartum will be immediately transferred to OB care.
● If you’re an early-bird you may be asked to wait in your car until your appointment time.

𝐀𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐞 (𝐋𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐫, 𝐁𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐡)
The previous section, plus:
● Hospital is locked-down. No visitors except for compassionate visits (no, meeting a cute new babe does not count).
● Everyone entering RGH at ER, main entry and 15th St Admitting door will be screened for C-19 risk factors.
● Doors that don’t have an admitting desk are locked tight; security will not let anyone in. That includes the convenient door just below the MBU.
● Galleys (the kitchenettes) in the units are closed to patients/support person. There is no access to the microwaves, kettles, food, water-ice machines. There is no access to the fridges and freezers, except for the small ones in your room.
● Food Services is limiting snack delivery. Bring your own snacks and food! Maybe a little kettle if you like to make hot drinks. There’s a small fridge in every LBU & MBU room.
● Labouring woman and support person are both screened before entering the LBU. If the support person doesn’t pass screening, they will not be allowed in either unit. An alternate may be invited, who must pass screening and plan to stay for the duration of the admission. If the labouring woman doesn’t pass screening then her and her partner will be put into an isolation room for the birth and postpartum, and not allowed to leave the room for any reason. Food will be delivered by RGH food services.
● Early discharge is being offered as an option for those that are healthy and feel comfortable with newborn care. That means to go home a few hours after your birth instead of staying 24-36 hours.
● Women getting a cervidil induction will be monitored and then sent home to wait for labour to start, as per usual, then rescreened at RGH doors and LBU doors upon return.
● People who show up too early in labour will be sent home, as usual, then rescreened at RGH doors and LBU doors upon return.
● There will be no in-hospital water-birth for midwifery clients. The installed bath-tub is available for comfort in labour.
● Support people are allowed at homebirths but must be screened. If anyone in the home (residents or support people) doesn’t pass screening, then the birth must be transferred to RGH. In that case, the one support person rule applies. Home birthers – screen your people before they come over!
● Screening questions:
1. Have you or anyone in your home been out of the country and returned to Canada prior to March 6th?
2. Have you or anyone in your home been out of the country and returned to Canada March 6th or after?
3. Are you, or someone in your home feeling sick? If yes, what are your symptoms?
4. Have you or anyone in your home been directed to self-isolate? If yes, by who? What date?

𝐏𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐮𝐦 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐞
Previous 2 sections, plus:
● Families are being asked to stay in their room as much as possible.
● Partners may not visit any other patient areas.
● Food trays are being provided for new moms in the MBU.
● Breastfeeding class in the unit is still running but only birth mother and baby attend (no partners) and only up to 3 participants.
● Midwives and public health nurses are still providing postpartum home-visits. Some may be done by phone or video, depending on your needs.

Use of Herbs During Pregnancy & Lactation

hers for pregnancy

Herbal medicine is specific category of health-care.  Many herbs, including essential oils, are safe and beneficial during the childbearing year, while others can be dangerous.  Pregnant women must be cautious with any remedies, especially during the first trimester when the fetus is most vulnerable.  There’s a lot of misinformation concerning herbs.  Here are lists of commonly used herbs that are considered safe and unsafe through pregnancy and postpartum.

Exercise During Pregnancy

Birth has been compared to climbing a mountain or completing a marathon.  Being physically fit is an advantage.  Exercise generally improves pregnancy, birth and newborn outcomes for people with normal pregnancies.  There may be a protective factor for gestational diabetes, congenital anomalies, miscarriage, placental problems, intrauterine growth restriction, high blood pressure or fetal death.  Evidence suggests that abnormal heart rates, cord entanglement, and the presence of meconium are significantly reduced.  While there is no increase in premies, there may be fewer postdate gestations.

Avoiding Post-Dates Pregnancy

Post-term or post-date pregnancy is one that exceeds 40-42 weeks gestation, depending where you live.  If a woman is healthy and well nourished then her placenta is likely to thrive and nourish the baby at any gestation.  If there are signs that mother or baby will be healthier with baby Earth-side, then induction is warranted; otherwise it’s a much overused intervention that leads to a Cascade of Intervention.    

Posterior Position – Turning Baby Prenatally

Fetal position at the onset of labour is one of the greatest determining factors of how the birth process will proceed.  During labour the fetus makes certain movements to descend through the pelvis.  The optimal fetal position is pictured below.  A good way to remember the best position is to think about giving your baby a back rub every time you rub your belly.

A spot near the back of the fetal head is used to determine fetal position.  The terms “posterior” or “sunny-side up” describe a baby who faces out, or is spine-to-spine with mother.   “OP” is the medical jargon.  The presenting part of the head is bigger in this position and the baby doesn’t flex and rotate as well as an anterior baby.

Problems Related to Posterior Position

  • More difficult for baby to drop into and through the pelvis
  • Pregnancy may last longer
  • Membranes are more likely to rupture before the onset of labour
  • Labour may progress slowly or not at all
  • Back-pain during labour that doesn’t disappear between contractions
  • Increased risk of tearing
  • Increased risk of instrumental or surgical birth
  • Increased stress on baby’s head and nervous system

However some women birth a posterior baby just fine.  Those include but are not limited to, women who’ve given birth without difficulty before, those with an average or smaller baby, a labouring woman who’s able to move about freely and allow her baby to rotate into an anterior position.

Fetus in WombBaby in optimal position:  head down and flexed, back out.

Signs of a Posterior Baby

  • Feeling kicks or flutters at your front
  • Frequent urination (more frequent than with anterior pregnancy)
  • Belly appears flat or lumpy
  • Your midwife or doctor can tell by palpating your abdomen, as is done at every prenatal visit
  • Fetal heart-tones may be difficult to hear
  • Head is not engaged or doesn’t drop into pelvis
  • Can be confirmed with ultrasound
  • During labour she can also tell during an internal examination

Factors Contributing to Posterior Position
Posterior-babies can occur with no risk factors, but the following increase the chances:

  • North American lifestyle – reclining in upholstered furniture, sedentary lifestyle, sitting in cars (it’s interesting to note this position is rare in cultures where women walk a lot or work bent-over, and lack Lazy-Boy style chairs and couches)
  • Sitting with legs crossed
  • Postural or anatomical issues
  • Issue of uterine / abdominal muscles (e.g. tight psoas)
  • First pregnancy
  • Epidural use early in labour (hinders rotation and descent of baby) is correlated with more than 3x the rate of posterior position at birth (Tully, 2008)
  • Labouring in bed or without adequate movement
  • Baby who was breech and turned to vertex
  • Mother with history of breech or posterior baby
  • Short or tight cord around baby
  • Emotional issues – fear of birth or parenting, not paying attention to pregnancy, family history of breech, relationship issues, financial concerns, stress (Frye, 1998)

Tricks for Turning a Posterior Baby to an Anterior Position
Sometimes there’s a reason (that we don’t know about) for baby to be posterior and nothing will turn her or him.  But in many cases a baby can be turned.  Please ask for details or referrals.

  • Visualization and “talking” to your baby. Focus on letting the baby know it’s easier to get out when facing the other way.  This works especially well if combined with changing your emotional environment e.g. dealing with fears, prepping for birth.
  • Look at a picture of baby in proper position (e.g. Fig. 1), or have it drawn on your belly!
  • Webster Technique with a chiropractor certified in its use. Pistolese (2002) cites an 82% rate of success in relieving the musculoskeletal causes of intrauterine constraint.  It’s beneficial to perform the Webster Technique starting at 35-36 weeks.
  • Sit with pelvis tilted forward – knees below pelvis with straight back. Instead of upholstered furniture, use a birth ball, the floor, a kneeling chair or a regular hard chair or stool
  • Hands and knees – read, crawl around, or child’s pose modified for pregnant belly
  • Pelvic rocking while on all 4’s – gentle cats and dogs yoga postures – several times daily
  • Swimming or floating – anything with belly down like a hammock for baby to drop into
  • Movement and exercise
  • Sleep on left side with a body pillow – left leg straight, right leg bent on pillow
  • Keep belly warm (babies may turn back to keep warm against mother’s back)
  • Homeopathic Pulsatilla 200CH, 1 dose every 3 days.
  • Acupuncture or moxibustion – see a Traditional Doctor of Chinese Medicine or an acupuncturist who specializes in women’s and pregnancy care.
  • Deal with fears around childbirth and parenting
  • Postural management – check out spinningbabies.com for some excellent postures and exercises that encourage babies to assume optimal positions for birth.

 

References

Frye, A. (1998). Holistic Midwifery, Vol 1, Care During Pregnancy. Portland, OR: Labrys Press.

Ohm, J. (2006). About the Webster Technique. Retrieved from icpa (International Chiroractic Pediatric Association): http://icpa4kids.com/about/webster_technique.htm

Pistolese, R. (2002). The Webster Technique: A chiropractic technique with obstetril implications. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics , 25 (6), E1-E9.

Tayler, R. (2000). Homeopathy for Pregnancy and Childbirth. Ottawa: Ottawa School of Homeopathy.

The Midwifery Group. (2008). Posterior Babies. Retrieved from The Midwifery Group: http://www.midwiferygroup.ca/downloads/position/Posterior%20Babies.pdf

Tully, G. (2008). Occiput Posterior – OP. Retrieved from Spinning Babies: http://www.spinningbabies.com/baby-positions/posterior

Breech Baby – What You Can Do Prenatally

“Breech” is a term describing your baby as head-up rather than the optimal head-down position.  Breech position is not uncommon in the middle of pregnancy and most babies turn head down toward the end.  Some turn during labour.  A baby coming bottom first can have more difficulty being born and while a caesarean birth may be suggested, there are many doctors willing to catch breech babies.  For now let’s focus on turning the baby.   The best time to turn the baby is around 35 weeks.

Baby Movements / Fetal Kick-Counts

Awareness of your baby’s movement is an important and non-invasive assessment of fetal well-being.  Basically, activity is reassuring and decrease or cessation is worrisome.  “Kick count” is the counting and tracking of fetal movement – kicks, flutters, swishes, jabs or rolls.  Mothers learn normal patterns for their baby such as sleep cycles, times of activity and triggers.  It’s also a way to bond and connect.

If you’ve been busy or are unsure about movement relax and have a meal, a small glass of juice or some fruit.  Palpate your baby to induce movement.  Pay attention to the movements.  Babies sleep.  If your blood sugar is low then so is your baby’s.  You should feel at least 10 movements over 2 hours (it usually takes much less time), and at least one movement in the first hour.

Keeping a journal of kick counts beginning at 28 weeks provides valuable information.

Instructions

  • Be properly hydrated and fed.
  • Ideally start the kick count at about the same time daily; think of it as a baby-date.
  • Rest when you do the kick counts, by sitting or lying on your left side.
  • Note the date, start time and the time at which the 10th movement takes place.
  • Calculate the total time for 10 movements.
  • Keep notes in the same place to see patterns emerge. Any method works.  Below is an example of a chart and one of a log.

Contact your midwife, doctor, or go to the birth unit at your local hospital immediately if:

  • You have followed the recommendations above and have not felt 10 kicks in 2 hours.
  • There’s a significant change in the pattern over the 3 to 4 days.
  • Your baby has a significant or sudden change in movements.
  • You have concerns.

Example of a Kick Counts Log
Note the date/week of gestation, and start time.  Count or jot down a √ or x for 10 movements.  Note the finish time, and total time.   Keep an eye on patters with the total time.

Week #32
Mon 9:00 XXXXXXXXXX    9:32         Total: 32 min
Tues 12:00 XXXXXXXXXX    12:45     Total: 45 min
Wed 9:00 XXXXXXXXXX    9:55      Total: 55 min
Thurs 9:00 XXXXXXXXXX    9:45      Total: 45 min
Fri 9:30 XXXXXXXXXX    10:05      Total: 35 min
Sat 9:15 XXXXXXXXXX    10:05      Total: 50 min
Sun 10:00 XXXXXXXXXX    14:15      Total: 4 hr, 15 min

Note the significant change in total time.  In this case you would seek medical attention on Sunday.

Kick Count- Blank Tracking Sheet (pdf)

Kick Count Chart – example (pdf)