My latest blog is to back up an article published today in The Times about why newborns need to be held by their mothers at birth for as long as possible . The ATAIN study looks at term (a baby born after 37 weeks gestation) admissions to neonatal units and how to avoid them .
Perhaps it’s time to rethink my strategy – I have been focusing my work on why birth workers should not move the newborn out of skin to skin . NOW I realise that we (that means ALL birth workers) must make our primary aim on STARTING and BEGINING the contact and how to educate women to keep hold of their newborns despite external pressures to move the baby .
So what are the external pressures?
As an experiment I have been piloting a scenario project with the pregnant women I come into contact with in my role as a midwife .
I roll up a clean towel and ask the woman to hold it and say “this is your newborn – I want you to try and imagine yourself tired and vulnerable after a long labour and someone is trying to make you move your baby 👶 out of skin to skin contact ” Then I teach the woman that whilst she is holding her newborn – millions of physiological things are taking place . These include
Brain activity in the amygdala
The newborns tongue is starting to move
The newborns heart is changing from how it was inside the uterus to extra uterine function
A connection which is so simple yet at the same time too complex to put into words is beginning – that connection is the most important relationship known to man – the relationship between the mother and her newborn and the newborn and her/his mother . By discussing this I am not trying to disregard the relationship between the child and father or second mother – I am repeating what we know from other mammals that motherly love at birth makes a huge impact on children’s lives and long term mental health . If a child has been taken away from its mother because of circumstance or loss and there is a record showing that SkinToSkin contact occurred imagine the positive feeling this could give ?
Then I try to explain that we don’t know what we are doing when we forget to begin SkinToSkin contact but we could be meddling with human nature . A baby is so happy in SkinToSkin contact – yet a mother may not be – this is our challenge – to help women to understand why it matters to the newborn .
Please question your own practice first and then you may enlighten yourself – then try some simple birth scenarios which prevent SkinToSkin from starting – use these to teach women and families – go out and spread the word at every opportunity you can find- make a difference and always think SkinToSkin ❤️
Thank you for reading
Love , Jenny