Tuesday, July 7, 2009


The rule here is that whoever discharges a client in the immediate postpartum gets to do the laundry from the birth. If you've ever been at a birth, you know that the laundry is messy, and you might be inclined to throw items in the trash rather than attempt to wash them. I've done this at births. I'm not usually one to throw things away, but when you birth on your bath mat, I'm thinking that's $12 well spent to replace it.

So, I'm the laundry rebel. The laundry protocol here is two and one half typed pages. It's long. It includes soaking, scrubbing by hand, washing in cold, washing in hot, sorting, re-washing, and using bleach. It is typed in bold. You have to be able to speak the protocol to a staff midwife before you get scheduled for a first on shift. The last thing I am hoping to do after a 12 to 14 hour shift on my feet is work this hard at getting things clean.

The protocol has changed a bit since I was here last year. It's typed up prettier, and laminated now, and hangs right over the utility sink in which we're supposed to do all this soaking and scrubbing in the various pails and buckets provided.

On my first trek into the laundry room, I read the whole protocol while holding a large garbage bag full of yucky laundry. "I'm so not doing this," I said to myself. I dumped the whole sack of laundry into the washing machine, poured about 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide in along with some detergent and a scoop of oxyclean and set the whole mess on "hot." Seriously, I'm exhausted and someone else is in labor, and we're going to need these sheets before too long, so let's just get this done, shall we?

I know, I know. You're thinking you can't wash stains in hot water, it will set the stain. We all learned that from our mothers, and it's all over the internet as truth, I know because I just looked. Here's the deal: you need to wash your fabric in the hottest water it will tolerate to get a stain out. If you poked yourself and bled on your silk tie, you should wash it in cold water. However, if you bleed on your cotton sheets, hot water will do the trick. And you should never dry your item, or iron it before the stain is out. So if you try this trick at home, you should examine your laundry before you apply any kind of dry heat to it, lest you set the stain.

Hydrogen peroxide is the best cure for blood stains. It's amazing to watch it all bubble and foam, and it just pulls the stain right out. And I love an oxygen bleach--environmentally friendly, gets things clean and bright, what could be better?

I eat my dinner while the load is washing. The look through each item in the washer carefully. If you dry a stain, that's when it will be set, so I really don't want to do that. I know you're wondering how my laundry load turned out. Perfecta
as we say in Spanish. Pure white, no stains, and all without any pre-soaking, scrubbing or bleach. Then we just bake it in the dryer for 70 minutes on hot, and everything is good for the next girl. It's quick and efficient and gets the job done.

Just don't mention it to anyone until after I leave for home.

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