April 18, 2012
Skin to skin
A few months ago, my hospital's entire healthcare system implemented a new protocol that I actually really, really like. They want newborns to be placed skin-to-skin for at least 30 minutes after birth, if possible. It doesn't have to be right from the womb to the chest. And moms don't have to have their baby skin-to-skin because some women just aren't comfortable with it. But for most cases, babies now go directly onto moms chest and stay there for 30 minutes or more. I LOVE this!! It's something some of us have been doing anyway, but I do like that the whole system recognizes the benefits of keeping the baby and mom together. It's amazing how wonderful skin-to-skin contact is. If the baby is cold, the mother's body will adjust to raise the baby's temp, will cool if the baby is hot, the baby's heartrate and breathing are regulated, all because of that skin to skin contact. We've noticed APGAR scores are higher. A typical score is 8 & 9 and very rarely are there scores of 10, but lately, even the most conservative nurses are assigning 10's! The only 'problem' with this? I cry sometimes. Ok, ok, so I tear up pretty easy, but I just love it. Maybe it's because that's what I wanted with my kids and I fondly remember holding Caleb skin to skin in the recovery room. Whatever the reason, it's not uncommon for me to have tears in my eyes when moms are holding their sweet new babies on their chest. I think maybe because it's a different reaction when they hold their naked baby on their skin, compared to holding their swaddled baby. One mom, who's first baby was born before viability, was terrified of something going wrong, terrified that something would happen to this baby. She was so afraid, she refused to read anything about pregnancy beyond 22 weeks. She delivered by c-section, I was able to keep baby in the OR with the mom we went back to her labor room to recover (gone are the days of the 'recovery room'!!) She was scared of this baby and didn't know quite how to hold him and was so uptight, so I helped her get her baby skin to skin. Within a minute or two, she was relaxed and didn't let that baby go. It was just beautiful. After I gave him a Leboyer bath(2 hours later), he went back skin to skin and we wheeled out of the labor room to postpartum. I'm not sure that baby spent much time in the cribette! Another mom, who had been very, very sick a few years earlier held her baby skin to skin and the entire family started to cry because at one point, they thought they would lose her...now here she is with her newborn. As usual, I walk out of the room with tears in my eyes. Another mom laboring with her 3rd was open to the idea of skin to skin, but wasn't completely sure but said she'd try it. With the other 2 babies, the old routine was done....baby taken to the warmer, wiped off, meds given, weighed, all that stuff done while mom is taken care of. It wasn't done with any intention of separating them, it's was just how it was done. This time, she delivers a healthy baby who we place immediately skin to skin. She stays that way for a good hour and within 10 minutes, that baby was looking for the breast to nurse. It isn't always possible, sometimes the baby needs help to transition to life outside the womb, or mom isn't stable enough, but for the majority of healthy deliveries, it's been a wonderful change. I just have to keep tissues in my scrub pockets.