Congratulations at long last to April the Giraffe and baby [yet-to-be-named] giraffe! We are thankful for her sake (and ours) that the wait is over and mother and baby are doing well. As healthy birth advocates, we're also thankful and thrilled for this awesome example of how, by sticking to using the Six Healthy Birth Practices from Lamaze, April the Giraffe was able to have a safe and healthy birth. Let's take a look:
- Healthy Birth Practice 1: Let labor begin on its own
This one was followed to a T. April the Giraffe started showing signs of impending labor and birth in February, around the time that the live feed was launched. Of course, as we now know, she didn't give birth until April! Yet, no interventions were used to speed up the process.
- Healthy Birth Practice 2: Walk, move around and change positions throughout labor
Throughout her labor and birth, we see April walking, standing, laying down (briefly) and moving the way she wanted to help baby descend and find comfort.
- Healthy Birth Practice 3: Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support
Apparently there weren't any locally trained giraffe doulas on hand, but Oliver, April's partner and the baby's father watched on from the neighboring enclosure. We're sure he was offering encouragement in the best way that giraffe fathers know how. Just his presence likely provided comfort to April.
- Healthy Birth Practice 4: Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary
Despite walking around for quite some time with hooves hanging out (we human parents are saying, "ouch!"), April was left to labor and birth without interventions. Of course her medical care team watched on very close by, looking for any distress, but stayed hands off throughout.
- Healthy Birth Practice 5: Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body's urges to push
It would be fairly difficult for a giraffe to lay on its back, but even so, April gave birth in the position that was most comfortable for her -- standing and on all fours. Though we humans walk on two feet, many parents report giving birth standing, squatting, or on all fours as the most comfortable and instinctual.
- Healthy Birth Practice 6: Keep mother and baby together - It's best for mother, baby and breastfeeding
We've been told that mom and baby remain together (and were never separated in the critical time after birth) and baby is breastfeeding well -- and April is eating everything!
Despite some obvious differences, at the end of the day, humans and giraffes are both mammals, and as such, will instinctively give birth similarly. While medical interventions can be life saving if needed, when over-used, they can interfere with and do harm to the birth process. It helps to follow research and evidence-based practices that support a safe and healthy birth, like the Six Healthy Birth Practices from Lamaze. Choose a care provider and birth place that supports these best practices to help increase your chance of a good birth outcome.
All images from Animal Adventure Park.