How to Have a Healthy Baby {and avoid the NICU} -with Dr. Lucky Jain


(with Dr. Lucky Jain, dad, neonatologist, Emory University School of Medicine)

You just delivered your baby. Imagine it. Your heart is pounding, you’re exhausted, you’re excited, you feel this rush of  joy you’ve never felt & your eyes can’t leave your little baby. You’re in some deep smit….completely smitten.

You’re waiting to hear your baby breathe after birth. You’re waiting for that cry. You’re waiting to hear your provider say… “congratulations, you have a healthy baby”. Your decisions during pregnancy & during birth affect how your baby takes their first breath. 

What if there were simple things you could do & decisions you could make, during pregnancy, in labor & during birth, that would increase the chance of your provider saying “congratulations, you have a healthy baby“?

If you knew them, would you do them?

This class could help you make important decisions during pregnancy, in labor & during birth, that help you have a healthy baby and keep your baby out of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 

A miracle of life is how the baby transitions from the womb & starts breathing air. Understanding your baby’s transition & discussing it with your doctor or midwife will help you make the best decisions before labor begins & as your birth unfolds. It’ll also go a long way towards giving you confidence during birth

Did you know most newborn complications are respiratory? Sometimes your convenience might be inconvenient for your baby’s healthy development. Watch this class to find out why. (click to tweet)

We’re grateful Dr. Lucky Jain shares what his 30+ years (as a doctor specializing in newborn health) have taught him about having a healthy baby. Don’t miss this chance to learn how you can increase your chances of having a healthy baby during birth! 

You’ll Also Learn:

 1. What Dr. Jain’s  30+ years as a Neonatologist (highly specialized baby doctor) have taught him about being in labor and about birth (hint- you have 100% control over it & it’s totally unexpected coming from a doctor).

2. Why & How your decision for vaginal or c-section birth affects your baby’s respiratory system. 

3. Why the last few weeks of pregnancy are crucial for baby’s development- every day counts.

4. Why an early prenatal visit is so critical.

5. Dr. Jain clears up a huge piece of info that is often miscommunicated by nurses and doctors regarding amniotic fluid.

Don’t miss this one mamas…

Who’s Dr. Lucky Jain?

Dr. Lucky Jain is the dad of two grown daughters. He’s a Neonatologist (they provide highly specialized care to newborns with high-risks or premature birth), Professor and Executive Vice Chairman for the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine, Medical Director of Emory Children’s Center & Chief Quality Officer- he has 30+ years experience. His area of expertise is respiratory disorders of the newborn. “Lucky”, is Dr. Jain’s only given name. It was an unusual first name from an Indian family growing up in the 60s. The name has served him well- no one forgets meeting “Lucky”.

Watch This Class (or download the MP3 here)


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 What did you learn? Share in the comments below…



Dr. Lucky Jain 

What does a top Doctor hope you easily learn from ALL his experience? {so your baby might avoid the NICU} 



Sarah:              Hi, this is Sarah Blight with Your Baby Booty Interviews where we chat with moms, dads, and experts about the things that they learned about having a baby and becoming parents so that you can make better decisions faster and be one step ahead of the game.


                        So here to tell us today how your baby takes its first breath and why it’s even important to understand that is Dr. Lucky Jain. He’s a very busy man. He is a neonatologist. He is a professor and executive vice chairman for the Department of Pediatrics at Emory atSchoolofMedicine. He also serves as medical director for the Emory Children’s Center and he’s a chief quality officer, and he is a dad of 2 girls as well.


                        So thank you Dr. Lucky Jain for being here today with us.


Dr. Jain:           Hey Sarah, thank you so much for having me to join you in this.


Sarah:              Well thank you. I want to start out by asking from all of your professional and personal experience, what is the one thing that you really want new moms to know about becoming moms?


Dr. Jain:           Well, so I guess there is a lot to be said about natural birth and about believing in Mother Nature, and one aspect that is particularly important Sarah is the fact that pregnancy was meant to be of a certain duration and that every week of the pregnancy duration counts. So if moms can remember that that not one day less, not one week less, it’s the same biology as a full-term pregnancy.


Sarah:              And Dr. Jain, isn’t it true that it’s really an inexact science as to how far along you really are? So in other words, every woman – It’s hard to really tell exactly how your due date. Is that correct?


Dr. Jain:           That is true. That is true. Even with the most precise methods available, you still have a variation in our estimates of up to 1 week or sometimes up to 2 weeks, and so therein lies the value of spontaneous labor indicating biologic maturity for the baby and the mother’s readiness to deliver.


Sarah:              Okay. And we are going to talk in just a second about why every week and why everyday does count because that is really important to know. You specialized in respiratory disorders of the newborn, and so I want to talk about that, but first, I want to talk about you mentioned in the pre-interview that there’s a special relationship that physicians and patients have within a birth scenario. That is really different than any other patient-doctor relationship. Can you expound on that and tell us why that’s really important and why it’s different?


Dr. Jain:           Absolutely. Well, I think that in many other areas of medicine, particularly where critical decisions are made, those decisions are often left to the medical team by families by patients, and we certainly take that responsibility seriously. Whether we are in the ICU or in the general wards, we take ownership of medical decisions and accordingly treat patients to the best of our abilities.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           When it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, the level of partnership that exists or should exist between an expecting mother and her providers is so unique. I must say I practice medicine now for over 30 years. There’s no other area where it brings forth that level of cooperation, coordination, conversation around medical decision making, and I wish that we could use this as a model to enhance collaborative care in other areas also.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           But it seems like patients often withdraw into their shell. They say I can’t. I can’t really tell whether you should operate on my knee or not, but they’ll jump in and say I would like to deliver my baby by either cesarean section or vaginal birth. They’re very, very confident in making those decisions.


Sarah:              Uh-huh. That’s really interesting. I want to talk to you now about the baby’s transition from the womb and living inside a woman’s body to living and breathing in the outside world.




Can you explain to us what happens? It seems like it’s just a miracle, but I’m hoping you can explain to us in words we can understand what’s really happening between when the baby comes out – we’re going to say vaginally here. When a baby comes out of a woman’s vagina, what happens between that moment and then the moment where they take their first breath?


Dr. Jain:           Sure. Well, so if you ask a bunch of mothers and obstetricians as to what the lungs of the fetus are filled with the first answer you’ll get always is amniotic fluid because the baby continuous to be submerged or constantly bathe by a large pool of amniotic fluid.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           And so, the first thing to understand is that the fetus is not allowing any of the amniotic fluid to get into the lungs…


Sarah:              Okay.


Dr. Jain:           …but it’s actively making fluid in very large quantities.


Sarah:              Okay.


Dr. Jain:           And at birth, this production of lung fluid has to stop and the baby has to begin the task of cleaning up or clearing the fluid to create space for air breathing.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           So in the simplest of words, the two major tasks which transition a baby from in-neutral life to a breathing independently or establishment of spontaneous breathing in the baby and circulation into the lungs…


Sarah:              Okay.


Dr. Jain:           …both of these things are relatively deficient in the fetus because the placenta is doing all of the functions that the lungs normally do.


Sarah:              Uh-huh. That is so fascinating. So I’ve heard that there have been new studies about what starts labor, and in one study, I read that it is the lungs secreting that fluid. Are you saying – What I’m understanding that it’s the baby really excreting that fluid out of their lungs to make room for air or does that happen later?


Dr. Jain:           Right. So early on, the fetus is making a lot of fluid because that serves the scaffold the lungs are built.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           If you drain that fluid in the fetus, the lungs don’t grow properly, and we know that when membranes rupture early or babies are not making enough urine. But after birth, there is a very elaborate mechanism in the lungs to clear lung fluid and it all operates through absorption of sodium.


Sarah:              Okay.


Dr. Jain:           So it’s fascinating there are millions of little molecules in the lung lining of the baby which rapidly go to work and absorb sodium. With sodium, there is absorption of chloride and salt movement draws or drags water from inside the lungs into the blood. Now we know this because if for any reason this process doesn’t go through properly, the lungs stay wet, and that causes the baby to breathe fast.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           In medical terms, we call this condition transient tachypnea of the newborn, which means for a brief period, the baby is breathing fast.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           But if the amount of fluid in the lungs, retained fluid in the lungs is a lot then these babies can have breathing difficulties up to 3 days after birth.


Sarah:              Is there…


Dr. Jain:           The [0:08:51] [Indiscernible] mechanism.


Sarah:              Okay, so that’s important. Is it important that the baby pass through the narrow pelvic passageway also? Does that do anything to get some of the liquid out of the lungs as well?


Dr. Jain:           Not so the physical impact of the passage.


Sarah:              Okay.


Dr. Jain:           So once upon a time, we used to think that during the passage through the birth canal, the lungs get squeezed, and therefore, fluid comes out.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           But we now know that not to be the case.


Sarah:              Okay.


Dr. Jain:           What actually happens is during labor, during active labor in the act of vaginal birth, it allows the body to secrete large amounts of stress hormones like steroids and catecholamines, and those hormones then help activate the process which clears sodium and water.


Sarah:              Oh.


Dr. Jain:           So it’s a secondary effect if you can see steroid’s not the primary act of squeezing the baby. It is the rigor of labor which induces some level of stress within the baby to produce the stress hormones and those then allow the lung fluid to be cleared.




Sarah:              Okay, that is so fascinating. That is so interesting.


Dr. Jain:           Yeah.


Sarah:              Okay, so let’s talk about cesarean sections.


Dr. Jain:           Okay.


Sarah:              We know that the rates are really high in c-sections. There are some women who may be watching this interview right now who may have to have a c-section. It’s going to be unavoidable perhaps for them. What kinds of things do they need to know and be aware of going into a c-section from a standpoint of a respiratory problem that their baby might encounter?


Dr. Jain:           Right. So I guess I should start by saying that there are certain conditions for which cesarean section can be life-saving.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           So if the baby is too big to be delivered vaginally, if the baby is in breech position, if there’s a large birth defect that would prohibit being delivered vaginally like a hydrocephalus baby.


Sarah:              Yeah.


Dr. Jain:           So those are the kinds of things where an obstetrician can make the best judgment about what is the right way to deliver a baby.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           But for normal babies who are electively delivered by cesarean birth, it’s important to remember that these babies have not had the opportunity to secrete the hormones which would have allowed for smoother transition, and so after birth, they generally have larger amount of fluid in the lungs than their vaginal birth counterparts.


Sarah:              Okay.


Dr. Jain:           And so they tend to breathe faster after birth for varying periods of time, and because they breathe fast, they often have sometimes need for oxygen and respiratory difficulty sufficient to be admitted to the NICUs.


Sarah:              Okay. And so let’s go back to the first part of the interview where you said every week counts, everyday counts, and that there are consequences, and there are long-term things that happen to your baby because of the decisions that are made. Can you give us an example of either a c-section baby or maybe a baby who was induced to be born before they were really ready? What kind of consequences are you seeing in babies who are having these respiratory problems?


Dr. Jain:           Right. So everyone of us who’s been doing this long enough will remember at least one particular case that you will never forget in your life, and the one I remember so clearly probably because I narrated the story over and over again is the case of an army officer who was being deployed to Afghanistan, and he wanted to see his baby before he left the country, and so the family in rural Georgia insisted on having their baby delivered at 37 weeks.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           That baby ended up developing severe respiratory distress. Subsequently, he was admitted to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta where the patient had – We had a hard time treating the respiratory failure, and the baby survived but only after being put on artificial lungs, which we call ECMO.


Sarah:              Wow.


Dr. Jain:           All of this for just the joy of having to see the baby and being delivered a week early. I think that is the type of avoidable morbidity or disease that we sometimes deal with, and I think it’s really important to know that the last few weeks of pregnancy aren’t like a plane putting down its landing gear, and that if you take away the last 2 or 3 weeks of pregnancy, you can somehow view that plane landing that it’s geared only halfway down or sometimes not at all in a position to hit the runway, and so this baby sometimes have a lot more trouble than we normally would anticipate.


Sarah:              So for that baby in that specific example, what would be the repercussions as the baby is stabilized? What would be the repercussions for that child or are you aware of what happened?


Dr. Jain:           Yeah. So there are, of course, some short-term consequences as you can imagine Sarah, and then there are long-term issues that we need to worry about.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.




Dr. Jain:           Of course, the short-term consequences are breathing difficulty requiring intravenous fluid because feeding cannot be started having to be on antibiotics because we don’t know if the stress is due to an infection or something else, and so one thing leads to another.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           In the longer intermediate duration, these babies continue to have oxygen needs; and therefore, cannot be fed by mouth, and if babies don’t feed well by mouth in the first week or so, it takes them a very long time to learn to just bottle feed or breast feed.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           Longer-term studies now coming out particularly fromEuropeand some from theUSincluding theCaliforniastudy cohort show that these babies often have developmental difficulties. In school age, they have learning disabilities and a bunch of other problem that could have been avoided.


Sarah:              I read something that said that there might be a link between this and celiac disease, which is the – when you’re not able to process or consume glutton. What do you know about that?


Dr. Jain:           I don’t.


Sarah:              Oh you don’t?


Dr. Jain:           It is – I mean I think that I’m really well versed with this literature, but that one, I – I haven’t…


Sarah:              That’s a new one for you?


Dr. Jain:           One thing I will tell you Sarah is that there are studies which I’ve looked at the microbial colonization of the gut, and one study showed that the bacterial colonization of the gut up to 70 years is different if you’re delivering them by vaginal birth versus a cesarean birth. Imagine just that one small difference leads to – It’s such a striking difference in all caps, yeah.


Sarah:              That is so fascinating. So Dr. Jain, we just have a coupe minutes left, but I want to ask you for new moms who are watching this interview, what are some advice, some specific steps that you can give these moms as they approach their childbirth?


Dr. Jain:           Yeah. So I guess the first thing that I always emphasize is that prematurity is a very big problem for us and that the definition of pre-term birth, less than 37 weeks, was actually a man-made definition. It’s not a biologic definition, so if a baby is delivered at 38 weeks, don’t assume that that’s full maturity because it’s 39 to 40 weeks when we really considered a baby to be fully mature and ready to be born.


Sarah:              That’s a great thing.


Dr. Jain:           And yeah, it’s particularly important if we are going to have induction or a cesarean birth because in normal spontaneous birth, you can let Mother Nature take its time, and then mother is going to spontaneous labor indicating full-term gestation for that mother for the most part.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           But if we are going to induce or have operative delivery, we better be very sure of dates, and so early prenatal care or one early prenatal visit for bathing of the pregnancy is critical especially if we get into [0:18:39] [Indiscernible] where 30%, 40% or 50% mothers have some type of intervention. If they don’t have good dating of the pregnancy it becomes a huge problem for us.


Sarah:              Okay.


Dr. Jain:           And then, the final thing I would say is that while obstetricians have a huge role to play in how medical care is provided around the time of birth, mothers need to become educated about the pros and cons, and take a bigger role in how their pregnancies and their childbirth is managed, and then after birth, you know, make sure that babies are breast fed and taken care of in the way that would give them the best potential in life.


Sarah:              So Dr. Jain, I want to go back to something you just said because I think a lot of people might be surprised that you, as a physician, are really encouraging the women to become really pro-active in your own healthcare. I think there is a perception that the doctors just have want to be the one in-charge and they just want to call the shots, but it sounds like what you’re saying is the women really need to step up to look like really be pro-active.


Dr. Jain:           Oh absolutely. I think hospitals which have the best outcomes – I may be speaking not with a rigorous scientifically done study in my hand, but just from my own experience, I can tell you that hospitals and practices, which has the best outcomes have very engaged families and parents.


Sarah:              Uh-huh.


Dr. Jain:           Now you see that across the board whether you look at middle school, early schooling, schools which have parents that are very involved tend to have children who do really well. So I would say that this is particularly an area where if an information mother ask the right question, you can help guide the obstetrician to the right place so that you’re not delivered early or delivered by s-section just because it’s convenient to the provider.


Sarah:              Uh-huh. That is great. We are going to end on that note because I think that is super great advice from Dr. Jain. Thank you so much for being iwht us. If the women who are watching , if you guys have any questions or comments about what we’re talking about today, please leave it below this interview and we’ll makes sure that we address all your questions and comments.


                        Special thanks to you Dr. Lucky, Jain for your insight and your expertise, and thank you guys all for watching. We’ll see you next time.

[0:21:18]          End of Audio


  • Pregs

    My doctor just talked to me about ‘collaborative care’. He told me I need to be in the know so I can help him give me better care. I guess I found a good one! You can tell just by listening to Dr. Jain he listens to his patients. I so appreciate that now.

    This is in contrast to my first birth & doctor. My first doctor never told me what was going on, made decisions without me & they were against what I communicated I wanted (no episiotomy & other things early on). Needless to say, he’s not my doctor anymore (& we had words after). I remember your other interview with Kate about Why Choosing the Right provider is Crucial…she said it right on “your doctor needs to be your advocate”…or something close to that. That’s some good advice I wish I heard the first time. I never knew how different doctors can be.

    • yourbabybooty

      Wow Pregs. Sounds like you’ve found your “soul mate” of a provider! Sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince— but we’re here to save you the hassle of all that and get straight to the “right for you” provider. lol. Most mamas don’t realize that our providers are HIRED by us! They work for us and those of us in the working world know that those working relationships which are collaborations are always the best for everyone!

  • HavinABaby

    Glad I listened to this. What Dr. Jain said at 17 minutes 30 seconds about preterm labor was good to learn & I didn’t know ‘preterm’ before 37 weeks was man made definition.

    “Hospitals & practices with the best outcomes have very engaged moms”…at 20 minutes…& what he said after was really good too! Really learned a bunch here!

    • yourbabybooty

      Thanks for sharing what you learned! I know I need to listen to this one a few more times to get all the nuggets of gold:) Sounds like they need to reevaluate the meaning of “preterm” eh?

  • Melanie

    Interesting story Dr. Jain told about the army guy. That’s a tough one. I’d want to meet my baby too before being shipped off, but not if it increased the chance for problems. My doctor offered to induce me early & I went along with it. My babe had some respiratory issues, sounds a lot like what he was talking about in here. Looking back I have no idea why I was induced?? Dr. Jain mentioned about being on the hospitals or providers time line, I bet that’s what it was for me. Watching my little one have those issues (likely because of inducing before he was fully developed), I’ve learned my lesson! I won’t allow the hospital or anyone to do anything or give me anything again without clearly explaining the medical need for it. No way jose.

    • yourbabybooty

      Hi Melanie- sounds like you had a similar experience indeed. I hope your next one (if you choose to have more kiddos) is much better and I’m sure it will be now that you know what you know! Being in the “know” about all this is the best first step in having things turn out differently next time. All our best!

  • Mel

    Wow this was good. I’m just learning about everything now & I’m really glad I watched this. I assumed Inductions were offered because they were medically required. After listening to this interview & reading your Evidence Based Care Article (… I’ll be making dang sure there are medical reasons for everything going on. I love it that Dr. Jain took the time to share his experience. I showed this interview to a friend of mine (who was induced) & she said she didn’t learn any of this in her birth class. I’m glad I did! Love this site!

    • yourbabybooty

      woot woot! Happy to help:) Dr. Jain rocks.

  • pdma

    thank you for this video, I have a question, do you have an opinion about babies born early due to spontaneous labor but not by induction? I have a baby who was born water breaking at 36 1/2 weeks and a baby born through contractions spontaneous labor at 34 weeks 2 days. Both seem healthy but I’m considering effects down the road.

    • yourbabybooty

      Hi PDMA, that’s a great question. My first baby was born at 37 weeks (1 day) due to spontaneous labor- my water had broken. He is now a feisty 3.5 year old with no issues. I wonder if it’s simply a case of your dates being off? Maybe you were further along than you thought? How big were your babies?

  • Jelena

    Great interview. Many thanks to aSara and the rest of her team. I wonder is it possible to hear dr. Jain’s oppinion about epidural and its effect to newborns.
    Many thanks again. I personally gained alot from baby booty!

    • yourbabybooty

      Thanks Jelena! We’re happy that the information we’ve provided has helped you. That’s music to our ears. That is a fantastic question. I can try to get an answer for you…and will certainly try.

  • Amanda

    He is a neonatologist, not a obstetrician. He is specially trained to take care of neonates, not pregnant women. Two totally different speciality areas.

    • yourbabybooty

      Hi Amanda, you are right. Are you referring to something specifically that was written or mentioned that stated otherwise? Hope you found the content helpful!