When a newborn is gently placed into skin to skin at birth with its mother complex intricate physiological and psychological processes begin. As midwives we must be mindful of the next stage and fight back the strange urge (that seems to be a part of our midwifery culture) to move the baby .
Evidence shows that if the baby is moved after any period of time before the first breastfeed then the whole process must begin again, it’s like restarting a stop watch.
Patience and a detailed awareness about the physiology of breast feeding , mammalian responses ,the effects of intervention and why an early breastfeed will be an indicator of long term breast feeding success must be reinforced . The continually evolving fresh bank of ever expanding new research is gaining momentum. Emerging facts about ‘skin to skin contact’ such as it’s ability to reduce postpartum haemorrhage (this article can be read HERE ) , also the positive effect that skin to skin has on long term maternal mental health should be making us all sit up and think . If newborns experience skin to skin contact for long periods of time both at and post birth in combination with positive parenting the newborn will grow into a child and then an adult with an increased ability to socialise, be compassionate and be kind.
One thing stands like stone to me though and it is this
Which mammal do we know that puts its trust in another mammal and then allows that other mammal to take control of and/or disrupt the connection between the mother and the newborn ?
I have had so many emails and messages from mothers, fathers , future midwives , midwives , doctors ,peer support workers, friends and family about ‘who owns the baby ?’ I feel the time has come for us all to challenge the constraints put upon us and to encourage women to shout out …
“this is my baby – I grew this baby I nurtured this child – I am the birth mother and I will not let anyone move my baby without my consent – I am part of the dyad and we work together – we two are one ”
I would like to see more written about skin to skin wishes for birth if the situation becomes medicalised or complex – so that the other parent can have skin to skin contact . I would also like other health care professionals to consider whether they should be holding a baby without a reason. A family must also be fully informed and educated on the unseen detrimental effects of separation on the birth mother and the newborn .
Can we honestly say that we inform future parents that if their newborn is moved out of skin to skin contact too soon that it will affect their baby’s ability to breastfeed and the mothers ability to lactate ? Do we inform women that skin to skin contact gives a feel good factor ?
Have we made birth a production line business ? For example how many times have you heard “is the woman in ‘Astra birth room’ ready for transfer to postnatal ward yet ?” Without the woman herself being asked ? Do we have a constraint around time of birth to time of transfer to the ward ? Is it fair and equal that woman who give birth within a Midwifery Led Unit / Birth Centre can stay in the room they are in until they go home ? Whereas women who give birth on a labour ward are moved and then even separated from their partner in some hospitals ?
These are all my thoughts and I am writing to provoke questions in my own practice as well as trying to help families and midwives . My skin to skin journey is an ongoing one and any feedback will be valued and appreciated
Thank you for reading