We all know how important skin-to-skin (STS) contact is for a newborn and his mother. Most hospitals are moving towards immediate skin-to-skin for all newborns (breastfeeding mothers or not) in our delivery rooms! But what about the operating rooms?
At a time when families are under the additional anxiety of a surgical delivery, skin-to-skin care increases family togetherness and satisfaction with the birth. We have known for years that a cesarean delivery delays lactogenesis II and negatively affects breastfeeding duration. With a cesarean rate of 33% in many areas, this is an issue that affects many families.
A systematic approach makes this change more acceptable to all involved: nurses, obstetricians, anesthesiologists and lactation consultants. An organized process of planning, testing a pilot protocol, staff training will reduce the anxiety of all staff. Involve stakeholders from all disciplines in planning and executing the changes. An influential champion can provide the leadership to engage staff and create enthusiasm for the process of change. Finally, implement a preliminary protocol and refine it as needed, then make it policy.
Continual surveillance is needed to assure that the procedural changes are incorporated into practice and maintained and that there is no back-sliding into old habits. Analyzing the improvement in Quality Assurance measures can reinforce the hard work of the staff.
How this skin-to-skin procedure is implemented will vary from hospital to hospital depending on their facility and their staff. But Moms, infants and families will benefit as skin-to-skin becomes a normal and routine practice.
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