FutureBaby Chronicles: Medical Mascot Choice

One of many parts of the FutureBaby! process that I was lamentably ignorant of is the idea of the hospital tour. When I first mentioned to colleagues that we were expecting, many of them (mostly women) asked "Where are you going to have the baby?"

My initial response was "How the hell should I know? In a hospital, I hope. Preferably not in the back of a cab." I always just assumed you went to whatever hospital was closest when things started happening. Probably because I grew up out in the sticks, where hospitals aren't exactly thick on the ground.

But no, this is a Major Decision-- people choose hospitals well in advance, and in fact, the local hospitals all offer tours of their delivery areas, so you can see what they have to offer. So, guess how we spent our Saturday?

There were a lot of "LA LA LA LA LA" moments on the tour ("We're really just a baby-and-mother hospital, but we do have a crash cart in case the mother has a cardiac event, so we can stabilize her, and then transfer to another hospital..."), and some TMI stuff, about which more later. One thing that amused me, though, was the baby warmer in the delivery room.

First of all, the concept of a "baby warmer" is pretty amusing-- the woman giving the tour said "Once the baby is delivered, we take it over here, and pop it in the warmer..." I half expected her to finish that with "...and in three to five minutes, it's toasty warm and ready to serve!"

Beyond that, though, I was amused by the fact that it was a Panda brand baby warmer. Now, really, could there be a worse choice of a mascot for maternity products?

I mean, sure, pandas are all cute and fuzzy and photogenic, but really, is there a more incompetent potential mascot for equipment related to reproduction?

As I understand it from my time in DC, and the constant panda updates from the National Zoo, pandas are fertile for about fifteen minutes a year, they give birth to ridiculously small young, and have absolutely no idea how to take care of them. It's a minor miracle that the species has survived long enough to have its habitat destroyed by human activity. They seem like the Shakers of the animal kingdom-- very photogenic, great furniture, but you expect them to just wither away for lack of reproduction.

I mean, why not a Sea Turtle brand baby warmer? "When the baby is delivered, we bring it over here, and bury it in the sand for a few months, then swim back out to sea..."

If you want to choose an animal mascot for a baby warming device, give me an Emperor Penguin baby warmer-- an animal that will huddle in the cold for months at a time, putting its own body between its newly hatched chick and the Antarctic chill. That's the sort of committment I want to see from a medical device dedicated to keeping FutureBaby warm in the moments after birth.

More like this

Baby warmer? Isn't the mother warm? Or the father?

At the hospital where I had my baby (just a normal city and research hospital), it was placed on my chest directly after birth. When I got into the shower after resting a couple of hours, the little one rested inside her father's shirt (emperor penguin committment!). Maybe that's sort of radical, I don't know, but it seemed to be the way the nurses expected it. And it felt very nice.

But I guess a baby warmer can be handy if the father is not around, or if there are any other problems.

My 2nd boy was born 2 months prematurely, in Fairfax Hospital in VA. The incubator that he stayed in for 5 weeks had a sticker on it indicating that it had been won in an auction or taken from surplus (previous owner was some university hospital). All joking aside though, I was impressed by the NICU there. Four rooms of 20-30 incubator "pods" - looked like something out of a sci-fi.

wokka: Being held by a parent usually works, but if you really want to raise a newborn's temperature quickly, nothing beats a warmer.

Someone did ask whether skin-to-skin contact wasn't sufficient, and IIRC the answer was "not always". Also, they do the APGAR test in the warmer.

Their practice is for the family to spend an hour in the labor & delivery room before moving to a recovery room, and I got the impression that the vast majority of that time would be spent cuddling in an uncomplicated delivery.

Baby warmer? Isn't the mother warm? Or the father?


"Once the baby is delivered, we take it over here, and pop it in the warmer..." I half expected her to finish that with "...and in three to five minutes, it's toasty warm and ready to serve!"

This should be an "oh shit!" moment for you, actually. Could be reading this wrong, but the tour guide's statement implies that they do this routinely, rather than for the tiny fraction of newborns where artificial warming would be warranted. There are *huge* variations in birth outcomes and experiences from hospital to hospital, and that quote above is already a Very Bad Sign.

Well don't do what we did. My wife was due on Feb. 14, I was in Ohio at my job, she was finishing grad school (hard to do with an advisor that leaves for your last two years but I digress). Anyway I go down for Christmas, gonna bring her back to Ohio, do the birthing classes.

Well she starts feeling not so well, contractions, we time them, and we should already be at the hospital....We get there (only one in town) and they asked who the doctor was. We said, "well who do you have...". Jan asks for drugs, she wasn't gonna do them. Nurse says, "honey you're gonna have a baby". Jan (in not her kindest voice....) says "I KNOW THAT". The nurse says, "no you're having a baby NOW".

Little fella was born at 4lbs, 11 oz's, 6 weeks early. Couldn't drink milk, couldn't cry. But his lungs had surfactant so he could breathe on his own. He stays in hospital, we go back one day and ask about his weight. A cheerful nurse offers "oh he lost a pound!!!". Oh shit!! Turns out it was an ounce, and at that he dropped one gram, and moved down a slot on the conversion chart. Sheesh.

Today he is 18 graduates from high school next month, is 6'5", 290 with size 17 feet and no ankles seemingly. Just a tree trunk that comes from the feet. Needless to say he blew past the norms for size about 9 months after birth. Sometimes Jan feels lucky he didn't come to full term.

But he was born in Arkansas, still is quite proud to be an Arkansawyer, and would love to go to school there and play football, but he is just a wee bit too slow.

The hospital my where our kids were born (amusingly named CHOMP--Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula) had a nice setup where the delivery room was the same as the one you stayed in. We didn't even think about choosing hospitals though--the only other option was a bit further away.

I always thought the room full of babies in incubators was harsh and unnatural but I think they have gotten away from that.

My daughter was born at a hospital in a birthing center where they did as much as they could to make the experience as natural as possible. We had a queen size four poster bed with very little medical equipment present (there was a baby warmer, however, which was never used). When she was born she was placed directly on her mother and the only time she really left Mom was so that I/family could hold her. The experience was so great that we did something many will probably think truly crazy and had our son at home with a midwife.

By Steve George (not verified) on 21 Apr 2008 #permalink

Perhapsh I'm laughably old-fashioned, but I figured that this would happen at whatever hospital the OB-GYN is attached to.

By John Novak (not verified) on 21 Apr 2008 #permalink

Novak: My practice at present delivers at two hospitals, but they're going to stop delivering at the second after July for logistical reasons. Since FutureBaby is currently predicted to arrive July 28 . . .

(Also, the hospital we toured this weekend is equipped to deal with a wider range of problems, just in case.)

So, we were quite sure we'd be going to this hospital. I just wanted to get a picture in my head.

Some of the other people on the tour were due sooner; some of them may go to less-busy practices for which delivering at multiple hospitals isn't a logistical problem.