Who owns your baby?

The practice of whisking babies away after a brief meeting with mum and dad is thankfully changing. More and more research is discovering the benefits of immediate skin-to-skin contact for both mother and baby at birth. 

I speak from both personal and professional experience having had all my babies briefly introduced before being taken away for assessment and labelling. I remember vividly the ache in my heart at not being able to hold or see my babies until sometime later. I needed to be stitched up before I was eventually free to hold my baby and then they were so tightly wrapped the only part visible was portion of a tiny little face looking through the peep hole. I had my first C-section back in 1980 at a time when babies seemed to belong to the hospital, guided by policy, they were stored in nurseries between feeds and only allowed out every 4 hours. Pity the poor little babies who were missing their mums within the 4 hours, they would more often be settled with a drink of cows milk formulae or a pacifier to soothe them.

As a midwife of many decades, I have been part of the C-section production line in the operating theatre. I would wait to take the baby as it was passed from the doctor, say a quick hello to mum and dad, and then busily do the routine checks and labeling whilst mum waited longingly until she could have her first cuddle. I would see first hand how the startled babies looked after being suddenly lifted out of their secure warm wet environment be passed to the waiting Midwife who was holding a sterile cloth ready to transfer baby to the resuscitation cot. The warmed cot had bright overhead lights for assessment and visibility should baby need assistance breathing. Imagine that, the newborn baby is one minute snug in his familiar habitat and next minute he is hurriedly being dried with a cloth and swaddled in some foreign wrapper. I do feel somewhat sad none of my babies ever had the comfort of skin-to-skin cuddles immediately after birth where they could hear my familiar heartbeat, be soothed by my cuddle and warmed by my body heat.

I am so grateful for the research that has led to change today, I am thankful that in my clinical practice, I have been able to witness many beautiful Caesarean births where mums have been able to engage in immediate skin to skin with their babies. It is such a wonderful sight to see the intense joy for the mum and dad at this time and the calm that envelops the baby.

I am so glad my Midwifery career has spanned long enough to see this innovation in practice and I feel gratified to have been able to help drive the change. To read more about this evidence based practice see below.

Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants