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RaMa Mama Doula Share: Suctioning - What Happens & Is It Safe?

Babies show they are healthy by taking deep breaths and crying at birth. When there is no cry, doctors get concerned that the airway passage is clogged. Suctioning is a practice that has been used historically to clear a baby's passageway. In the more recent years, doctors have advised against suctioning due to the sensitivities that a newborn baby has. Even the World Health Organization has said that unless the baby is unable to clear the amniotic fluid and breathe on their own after birth, it is not advised to suction. Babies are very small and sensitive, and it is most important to be gentle and take care of their needs by meeting them where they are.

In cesarean births, there is no pressure from the birthing canal, therefore there is no pressure to help clear the fluids from the lungs of excess fluids. The five initial steps in caring for a newborn are to keep warm, stimulate energy, open the airway, and clear secretions. Suctioning happens when there is a blockage in the nasal or oral areas of the body.

There are a few concerns with newborns and suctioning. To begin with, the neonatal's airway is much more narrow, they have a larger tongue and epiglottis, and have a shorter trachea. Pathogens are lethal to newborns, especially if their immune systems are compromised. Also, the ability to go "skin to skin" after childbirth contributes to the health and wellbeing of the baby. With all things considered, this is a tine when it is crucial to make sure that the baby can breathe, but also being aware of the sensitivities, size, and fragility of a newborn in order to be able to manifest the most healing and beneficial conditions for a happy and success entry into the world.

There is no 'one way' for all babies. Each human has their own path. The most important thing is to observe, listen, and act for the greatest and highest good of all. Suctioning is not for all babies, but it can save a life when applied at the right space and time. Listen to the baby, honor the process, and go with the moment on what is needed at the time. This is the best way to apply interventions for the greatest and highest good of all.

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