Although home births are extremely uncommon in the United States, the rate of home births has been on the rise in the past couple of years. The decision to have a home birth can come as a result of many factors, including a familiar setting, more control over the process, and decreased cost. If you are having a home birth, the guidelines provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) should always be followed in order to insure the best care for your newborn. The guidelines are as follows:
In the first 4-8 hours of life, the newborn should be kept warm and be physically examined in detail. This includes temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and other important parameters.
Monitoring for Group B Streptococcal Disease
Pregnant women who are colonized with group B streptococcus should be given an antibiotic intravenously. Once the infant is born, he or she should be monitored for symptoms that are exhibited when infected with this bacteria. If symptoms exist, the baby should be taken to the hospital immediately.
If the mother has diabetes, the baby should be delivered in a hospital or birthing center due to the risks of hypoglycemia. If a baby is delivered and found to have hypoglycemia, the baby should be taken to a medical facility immediately.
The newborn should receive protection against gonococcal ophtalmia neonatorum to ensure healthy vision.
Every newborn should receive a shot of natural vitamin K in order to prevent hemorrhagic disease. The administration must be parenteral, as oral administration has not been shown to be effective.
Hepatitis B Vaccination
The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all healthy and stable newborns.
Assessment of Feeding
Breastfeeding should be monitored in order to ensure that the baby has latched on correctly and is drinking milk. The time and duration of feeding should be noted and recorded.
Screening for Hyperbilirubinemia
Elevated levels of bilirubin in the blood can be signs of a metabolic disorder. Therefore, all newborns should be screen for blood bilirubin levels 24 to 48 hours after birth.
Universal Newborn Screening
This is usually the first blood that is drawn from the baby to screen for different diseases, and it is fundamental in ensuring the newborn’s health.
The hearing screening can be performed at any time before 1 month of age for every child born outside of the hospital setting.
Follow-up care for the baby is essential, and every doctor’s visit should be recorded. Every aspect of the baby’s health will be monitored in follow-up care.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when delivering a baby at home. Make sure that your nurse or midwife is aware of AAP guidelines and that they are followed. This will ensure that your baby receives the standard of care that is customary in every medical facility.