I got a few questions sent to me, so I thought I'd post them here as I'm sure a lot of people are wondering about these things.
"What are the hospitals doing to protect mothers and babies from H1N1?"
To the dismay of many, hospitals all over are limiting visitors and not letting children into LD units. While this may seem harsh, one of the biggest problems at hospitals is infections. If you are choosing to have your baby at a hospital, I think that this is a good way to limit the amount of germs that are spread around. At the hospital I work at, they are making anyone who comes in with flu symptoms put on a mask. They are also trying to keep the sick moms in a completely different area than those who are not sick. I work for a corporation that owns three hospitals in my area. If there was to be a huge outbreak, one of those hospitals is designated as the sick hospital. I would assume that those who are caring for sick patients will only be with sick patients. That means that if someone is healthy, they won't get a nurse that is also taking care of someone who is sick. If someone is sick, the nurse is required to put on a gown, gloves, and mask. While I didn't really want to be vaccinated:), all the nurse were required to be. As you can spread the virus before symptoms show up, I was ok with that.
Do you think there is an increased risk to newborns in the hospital because of this outbreak?
Anytime there is virus' and germs around, newborns are at risk. As there are many people coming and going at the hospital, there are more germs there. That has always been the case though. Chances are, with the way this virus is spreading, the newborn would be exposed to it pretty much anywhere. The problem with hospital bugs, though, is the mom hasn't had a chance to develop an immunity to it and thus pass it on to baby. At home, the mom is exposed to all the germs there and has passed on the antibodies to her infant already. Therefore, I couldn't say for sure if there is an increased risk. I think it would depend on what is already in your community. As far as I know, though, no newborns have died from this virus thus far.
What would you suggest (to help prevent infection)?
Breastfeed!:) Whatever mom's body produces to fight off the virus will be passed on the infant. Try and get a good first feeding in. Colostrum is amazing stuff. I would also make sure that whoever walks in that room with mom and baby are washing their hands or using hand sanitizer. Make sure your nurses and doctors do this too. I personally would also keep baby with you as much as possible instead of taking it out to be exposed to others germs. I would ask for the nurses to do all the stuff they need to do in the moms room. I'm not sure if this would be accepted, but it wouldn't hurt to ask. I just think that limiting the exposure of baby to other people would be the best thing in the hospital. Moms should also make sure they are getting enough to eat and are limiting their stress. These things make a huge difference in our ability to fight off disease. I know these aren't used that much, but I think a post partumdoula would be so helpful with this.
Now here's the tricky part for mom in labor...fear and stress can lead to a more difficult labor, therefore, I feel like it is essential that we don't let these emotions take us over. Just know that there are always things we can do and have control over, and there are somethings we can't control. The trick is learning to do what you can and letting the rest go.
Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?
One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.