What to do for the baby
If the baby does not breathe on her own after 20 minutes of rescue breathing,
she will probably not be able to. She will die. Stop rescue breathing and explain to
the family what has happened.
Note: Doing rescue breathing has a small risk of passing infections
between a baby and a midwife. Using gauze or a very thin piece of
cloth to cover a baby’s mouth may help reduce that risk. Or you
may be able to buy a mask for rescue breathing. It goes over
the baby’s nose and mouth and the midwife breathes into it.
Only use these masks if they are made specifically for this use.
You may also be able to buy a bag and mask for rescue
breathing. These bags can easily give just the right amount of
air to the baby, but you must be trained how to use them.
A new baby’s heart should beat between
120 and 160 times a minute — about
twice as fast as an adult heartbeat. Listen
to the baby’s heart with a stethoscope, or
place 2 fingers over her heart. Find out quickly how fast the baby's heart is beating
to see if she needs help. Count the heartbeat for 6 seconds, then multiply by 10 (or
add a “0” — if you count 12 heartbeats in 6 seconds, the baby's heart is beating
120 times a minute). After the baby has good color and is breathing well you can
take the time to count the heartbeat for 1 full minute.
Listen to every baby’s heartbeat so you learn what is normal and what is not.
If the baby’s heartbeat is slower than 100 beats a minute, or if she has no
heartbeat at all, give rescue breathing.
If her heartbeat is faster than 180 beats a minute, get medical help. She may
have a medical problem with her heart.
When a family loses a baby
If a baby dies, the mother, father, and other family members will have many
feelings. Some feel angry, some try not to think about what happened, some
are overwhelmed with grief. For many families, the death of a baby is a
spiritual time, when religious practices are very important. As a midwife,
you can support the family in the ways that are used in your community —
and also in the ways that feel best to that family. Family members may want
someone to talk to about their pain, or they may want someone to help with
the work of the household.
A mother who loses a baby may also need physical help. She will have all
the needs of any other woman who just gave birth. She will also have breast
milk, and her breasts may become painfully engorged. See page 288 for how
to relieve breast pain. There may be plants in your area that help dry up
breast milk, but do not give Western medicines to do this — they are not safe.
A Book for Midwives (2010)