Birth Supplies: Heating Pad

I’ve fallen off the blog bandwagon as I finished up the last semester (both as a teacher and a student for the first time–that is not for the faint of heart).

This next birth supply is one that may or may not be something you’re responsible for gathering up yourself. I used to ask my clients to procure one, but have lately just been bringing one to births myself. I remove the cloth cover so that the plastic can easily be wiped down with a sanitizing agent and thus easy to carry as part of my equipment.

ANYWAY…the heating pad is very important and serves several roles. Most simply, it helps us warm towels and blankets for both the birthing person and the baby. Wet mamas get cold fast and wet babies get cold even faster. Cold babies are a very big deal. Neonatal hypothermia can lead to respiratory distress, hypoglycemia, jaundice, and metabolic acidosis. Indeed, it is a leading cause of death in low resource settings.

As such, when a baby’s temperature is not quite ideal, the heating pad becomes a heat source as well. Of course, being skin to skin with its mother is the most important piece of temperature regulation, but putting a heating pad on baby’s back (with a towel or blanket between them), can help bring baby’s temperature up. (Severe cases of hypothermia are a necessary transfer to the hospital.)

Finally, the heating pad is a heat source during resuscitation and transport of the newborn in emergency situations. If a baby must be resuscitated and transported, skin to skin is not possible past a certain point, and the heating pad can be used to maintain body temperature. Though it obviously cannot remain plugged in during transport, it can be unplugged and wrapped up with the baby (in a foil blanket or plastic) and the heat will be “trapped” for a long enough time to get to the hospital.

But in the vast majority of cases, the heating pad warms the towels and blankets, helping to keep the dyad comfortable and well.

So, yes, even if you live in a hot climate, and even if it’s summer, the heating pad is essential.

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