Many expectant parents are overjoyed at the arrival of their little one. They plan, months in advance, for their new baby, hoping to sail through the delivery and the maiden moments of their baby’s life. But, for some parents, delivery doesn’t go as smoothly as they had hoped.
Complications during pregnancy and childbirth can have mild to adverse effects on a new-born. Kenyan vlogger Chantelle Petit recently gave details about her troubled labour and delivery which led to her baby suffering from birth asphyxia – it comes about when the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen during the labour process, as described by Healthline.
“I arrived in the hospital and they told me my baby was in distress. They found waste matter when they checked how far I had dilated,” she said. “I remember her head was in my birth canal for a very long time and I kept asking myself, is that dangerous for my baby? What are the implications of that happening?”
One of the indicators of birth asphyxia is a heart rate that is too high or too low. For Chantelle, the indicator that there was a problem was when her baby didn’t cry once she was delivered. “They removed her and she did not cry. None of us knew why.”
Other symptoms of birth asphyxia are blue skin, difficulty breathing and weak muscle tone. If the baby lacks oxygen for a prolonged period of time, they can have lung, heart, kidney and even brain failure.
While some hospitals are equipped with the necessary expertise and equipment to treat this condition, some parents do end up losing their babies within minutes of them being born.
For those parents who do get help, there remains the question of what next? Chantelle spoke about the confusion that surrounded her as the medical staff tried to resuscitate her baby. According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), parents whose babies have suffered from birth asphyxia are often helpless, fearful and uncertain because there’s not much they can do to help their baby. Once the medical staff notice that there’s a problem with the baby, they take over and they’re left waiting for progress reports. They are in a state of unreality which may not get better after discharge.
One of the biggest struggles for new mothers is not being able to hold or nurse their babies. “She was in an incubator… She had to eat food so they put a pipe down her nose to feed her formula because there was this confusion about me giving her breastmilk,” Chantelle explains. NCBI states that this prolonged separation at hampers parent-infant bonding.
Parents also suffer from seeing their child subjected to what some term as harsh treatments. One of the ways of making a child responsive is by using hypothermia treatment. This involves putting ice packs under the baby’s bed to help reduce brain injury.
In some cases, like Chantelle’s, the baby might get other complications like infections which require the administration of antibiotics directly into the blood and this is often done through tubes.
Upon discharge, parents may have to contend with the effects of asphyxia on their child’s overall health. Some of these effects include malformation of muscles where the baby requires therapy in order to strengthen their muscles.
Inasmuch as the baby who suffered to birth asphyxia needs a lot of care from health providers, their parents too need support. Watching your baby suffer while you stand by helpless is psychologically and emotionally draining. Where possible, friends and other family members need to help out not just in the care of the infant but also giving the parents that much needed support.