That’s right! Initiating skin-to-skin and breastfeeding in the OR after a cesarean section is becoming the standard of care in many places.
Step 4 of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative has helped moved this idea forward. Mothers are loving it! And providers are finding that is easy enough to do.
Step 4: Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth
Place all babies in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately following birth for at least an hour. Encourage mothers who have chosen to breastfeed to recognize when their babies are ready to breastfeed, offering help if needed. Offer mothers who are HIV positive and have chosen not to breastfeed help in keeping their infants from accessing their breasts.
We have known for a long time that holding an infant skin-to-skin immediately after birth improves the physiologic stability for both mother and baby and increases maternal bonding behaviors. It is also the optimal start for breastfeeding.
The nine instinctive stages of newborn behavior, first described by Anne Marie Widstrom, unfold during the first hour after birth while the infant is in skin-to-skin.
- Birth cry - This distinctive cry occurs as the infant’s lungs expand.
- Relaxation – Mouthing movements begin and the hands are relaxed.
- Awakening – The infant moves his head, opens his eyes, and shows some mouth and shoulder activity. This begins at about 3 minutes after birth.
- Activity – Mouthing and sucking movements increase as the rooting reflex becomes more obvious. Eight minutes after birth.
- Resting – Periods of resting are interspersed with activity.
- Crawling – The infant approaches the breast with crawling and thrusting movements. Begins about 35 minutes after birth.
- Familiarization – The infant begins licking and nuzzling the nipple. Begins at 45 minutes after birth and may last for 20 + minutes.
- Suckling – The baby self-attaches to the breast and suckles.
- Sleep – Both mother and baby fall asleep. Usually about 1 ½ to 2 hours after birth.
Interruption of skin-to-skin holding can interfere with the normal progression of the infant through these nine stages. He then has to “start-over” delaying his first attempt at breastfeeding.
I highly recommend the article by Philips for a full discussion of the benefits of skin-to-skin and very practical steps to initiate these procedures in the OR**.
Burke-Aaronson AC. Skin-to-skin care and breastfeeding in the perioperative suite. MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs. 2015 MarchApr;40(2);105-9.
Grassley JS, Jones J. Implementing skin-to-skin contact in the operating room following cesarean birth. Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2014 Dec;11(6):414-6.
Hung KJ, Berg O. Early skin-to-skin after cesarean to improve breastfeeding. MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs. 2011 Sep-Oct;36(5):318-24.
** Phillips R. The Sacred Hour: Uninterrupted Skin-to-Skin Contact Immediately After Birth. Newborn & Infant Nursing Reviews. June 2013Volume 13, Issue 2, Pages 67–72
Sundin CS, Mazac LB. Implementing Skin-to-Skin Care in the Operating Room After Cesarean Birth. MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs. 2015 Jul-Aug;40(4):249-55.
Widstrom AM, Aaltomaa-Michalias P, Dahllof A, Lintula M, Nissen E. Newborn behavior to locate the breast when skin-to-skin: a possible method for enabling early self-regulation. Acta Paediatr 2011. Jan:100(1): 79-85.