Midwifery and birth, NHS

#skinToSkin my personal pilgrimage for babies and women

Today I’m up full of vim and vigour and decided it’s about time I explained my passion for skin to skin contact for babies. I was lucky enough to hear Dr Nils Bergman talk just over 6 years ago . I have always promoted skin to skin contact at birth as I am aware and fully conversant in The Ten Steps To Successful BreastFeeding by UNICEF . I am a fully fledged Key Trainer in BreastFeeding support – if anyone is having concerns or difficulties with BreastFeeding my first words are always skin to skin : )
I was however guilty of perhaps promoting skin to skin more for women who were keen to breastfeed and wonder now how many opportunities were missed because of my somewhat blinkered approach . As Sheena Byrom states regularly ” we are all learning ” (continually ) and if we don’t learn or stop learning we don’t develop, our gift to inspire is lost and the world will remain static – the quote by Gandhi “Be The Change You Wish To See In The World” helps me daily . I use the current tense as my journey is not a destination it is a pilgrimage to a nirvana (a state of blissful egolessness) where mothers will know all the benefits of skin to skin contact and be courageous enough to say they will be having skin to skin contact not “I’d like it” “if it’s possible” ” I’d like to try ” etc
Back to Dr Bergman – the moment you hear something that changes everything in your mind is described as a “lightbulb moment ” and that my friends is exactly what happened to me but first I had to test this theory and consolidate the evidence Nils had presented . Strangely enough within two days I was at work and with a woman who was having a Caesarean section for twins – the neonatal unit was closed. There were concerns about neonatal hypoglycaemia and hypothermia so I chatted to the mother about skin to skin contact and showed her the evidence that Nils had presented (women like to see facts so bear this in mind if you are ever trying to explain anything) she asked me to start skin to skin as soon as possible after her babies were born. The following is from my reflective piece that was written and sent to the North West Infant feeding coordinator

‘I facilitated skin to skin contact for both babies by fashioning a kangaroo system with a large soft cotton blanket . The blood sugars of the babies rose from an average of 6.1 to an average of 8.5 . The temperatures stayed normal and one of the twins that had some tachypnoea and grunting developed a normal respiratory pattern – the paediatrician had never seen this and was amazed . Both twins were prone but I never left the room so was able to continually observe their temperature respiration and heart rate . The woman had chosen to feed artificially – but it was incredible to see one twin crawling up her chest . She really enjoyed the experience and her partner and the twins grandmother took lots of photographs . I did not weigh the twins for a while and not until they were both settled this took less than one minute – skin to skin contact was just over 3 hours in total’

From that moment on I became a skin to skin addict and I was shouting from the rooftops about the benefits , the happiness it gave woman and stability it gave babies – so I started to look at skin to skin in different settings , promoting skin to skin regardless of type of feeding and networking with women staff and organisations.

Believe me when I say it’s not been easy and it won’t be – I’ve got myself into trouble at work for writing on a blank wall in theatre directly above the WHO checklist board “IS THE BABY IN SKIN TO SKIN” in large black letter with a huge heart on either side. I’m not saying you should all rush out and do that . What matters is raising the profile of skin to skin and with lots of support from my managers, colleagues and friends at work we are all making a difference within the NHS for babies to have a better start . All I’m saying is SO CAN YOU ! I put ‘skin to skin’ in tiny writing everywhere and I feel a bit like a skin to skin brainwasher staff say ‘ skin to skin’ to me all the time and I use it as a greeting or a way of saying good bye – it’s become my ‘high five’

Now onto twitter – TWITTER ! – initially I tweeted about my bears Billy & Bessie – which were bought to help a friend with severe depression. As most midwives know my ‘inner midwife’ tempted to peek at other midwifery related tweets and then I started thinking whether I could promote skin to skin globally by ‘harping on’ about it like I do at work and JennyTheM which was initially meant to mean Jenny the Mother – now means mother Midwife and Maven (with thanks to @Twidmife )

Twitter is the fastest way of seeing what’s happening in the world – whether it’s health , news , research , information and it’s got MASSIVE implications as it’s NOW ! I regularly go into work in the morning and tell a colleague about some news I’ve seen on twitter before I’ve even read a newspaper or heard the radio so please find your passion and tweet, enjoy, share and inspire

I’d especially like to say that I’ve gained courage from twitter and that the indomitable Sheena Byrom is always helping on my beautiful scenic pilgrimage to learn every day . Sheena has promoted the twitter buddy system and if you don’t follow her please do – also Florence Wilcock from Kingston hospital a truly family centred obstetrician who is spreading the skin to skin word within the team at her trust . The heads of midwifery that I follow and the student midwives who amaze me and are so 21st C modern kind and passionate , Anna Byrom at UCLAN for giving me a fantastic opportunity to present with music dance and laughter Jennifer Hicken (Great NorthMum) for inspiring me and believing in skin to skin and the people who are not NHS staff such as Annie McNamara, Ray Wilkins, Jo Platt and Duncan Richardson (for hedgehog info and moth phobia therapy) – you all keep me going make me smile and encourage skin to skin to ‘go viral ‘ ….. If there’s anyone I’ve missed please think this every single tweet I’ve read has affected me in a positive way and is helping all babies get #skinToSkin so tweet on tweeters : )




12 thoughts on “#skinToSkin my personal pilgrimage for babies and women”

  1. Inspirational Jenny … very proud of you. Keep the S to S campaign going…it’s soooo worth it.


  2. Hi jenny ,
    I admire your determination and commitment to skin to skin . I also love watching baby’s interact and settle after birth and days later if return with feeding concerns it’s so quick to reconnect mother and baby who got a bit separated from one another .
    You also show innovation and confidence and we all get great vibes when working with someone like that .


  3. Great article!

    I wasn’t “allowed” skin to skin with my first born, who arrived by emergency c-section, until an hour or so after her birth.

    With my second born, she arrived by elective c-section and we were given immediate skin to skin. It was amazing! The post birth euphoria combined with my newborn snuggled on my chest is one of the happiest times of my life 💗



  4. Hi Jenny, I am Colette , midwife and infant feeding co ordinator from crewe, we have met and chatted a couple of times, last time at BFI conference and I am wondering if there is a way of me private messaging you re skin to skin?
    Sorry you must get mithered but I need to ask your advice asap, Hope to hear from you, if not keep up your excellent work, I think you are amazing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. https://www.facebook.com/Mother-Infant-contact-skin-to-skin-in-the-operating-theatre-setting-445225315630071/





      Here are a few articles – i suggest you join twitter not necessarily to tweet but to find out new innovative practice around skin to skin and I also asked a neonatologist how you could approach this situation here is his reply …..

      ” Showing the paediatric team a piece of paper or evidence is useful but more important is to understand why they want to do it and work together. Changing not just minds but hearts as well”

      Love Jenny xx


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