Call it kangaroo care or skin-to-skin contact, but that special cuddling time is a huge part of getting to know your newborn. It's also something women who have C-sections don't get to experience.
A new quality improvement project by the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) is calling for skin-to-skin to be available to women undergoing C-sections. The barriers: newborns are taken away post-surgery for a significant amount of time, mom is groggy from medication, and she's covered in sterile draping from the surgery. But the biggest challenge, it seems, is making mom-baby skin bonding a priority among the healthcare providers.
"Nurses can help identify and eliminate barriers to skin-to-skin contact following Cesarean surgery and raise this as a priority for improvement," says AWHONN CEO Lynn Erdman, MN, RN, FAAN. "The health benefits of skin-to-skin contact along with breastfeeding are well understood, so expanding this practice to cesarean births is a natural improvement for practice and patient health."
What are the benefits? Skin-to-skin relaxes both mom and baby, strengthening their bond and making latching on during breastfeeding easier. That means better sleep, weight gain and brain development. Studies indicate it also boosts mom's cortisol levels, lowering her risk of postpartum depression.
"The moments right after birth represent the ideal time frame for initiating breastfeeding, which generates important health benefits for the baby," says the article, which recommends implementing measures to break down those post-surgery barriers. The easiest place to start? Bringing babies back to mom's room sooner.
Tell us: If you had a C-section, how long did it take to meet your baby?