Who's Touching Your Baby? Thoughts on the Newborn Exam

In this episode of Taking Back Birth, I offer some of my thoughts about the newborn exam.


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  • I try not to take away the power of new parents by letting them do the touching while I fill out the paper. I let the parents decide if they want to know the 'age' of their baby. That is why I do the exam!! I don't recall ever thinking of 'looking for problems' with the exam, butt merely assessing the 'age'. Sometimes women want to know for sure when they conceived and I have a chart (that I got 35yrs. ago from a hospital!!) that computes all the little intricacies mathematically and comes up with how many weeks this being is!!! I love it!! Many times I have helped women who were curious and sometimes anxious to know 'when' they conceived and who the father was! I do have a case where the mother didn't want me to do it and the baby died three hours later from a lung hemorrhage!!! and that's when I got arrested in France and suffered many years from it. My research has brought me to understand it was connected with a vitamin K deficiency because the mom was 44 and dad was 50. But nevertheless, I feel if I had done the exam I could have noticed something, even though the labor and delivery was perfect. And I agree wholeheartedly that we are reaffirming 'normal'. Thanks again Maryn for your brilliant ideas!!

  • Thanks for your comment and varied experience, Mamacita! I am curious what you may have found or heard in detecting a lung hemorrhage, I have not heard of that. I am sure you did the best you could with what you knew at the time, which is the case for everyone, even under difficult circumstances. And I think that's always the paradox with what we do isn't it? Drawing the line between fear and routine with sometimes things needing to be done OR the feeling that if we had just done "this", a problem would have been avoided...woth doing routine things always out of fear of missing "something". It's difficult to answer, but still I ask...is routine beneficial, when it will subject hundreds of people to something and "maybe" save one? These are the hard questions. Thank you for all that you do for mamas and babies! Love, Maryn

  • Amanda Cross

    Thank you so much for these podcasts! This is exactly what I've been feeling about the newborn exam - it's so helpful to suggest that midwives include the parents on the whys and hows of the exam and to let them know that it doesnt have to be done right after the birth. You're an amazing woman and me husband and I are learning a lot from you. Thank you for all the work and thought you have put into these... your message is reaching people and has already changed my unborn baby's life for good!

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