Can you still do Skin to Skin contact after Caesarean?
Yes! Yes! and Yes!
It amazes me how still in this day and age, so many Moms continue to say they did not do skin to skin after birth “because of their caesarean”. There are ample studies that show that medical staff are fully capable of helping Mom (or at least Dad until Mom is finished with surgery) to do skin to skin after surgery. Time after time this is a missed opportunity for the Golden Hour, and beyond to the first couple of very very important hours after birth for the baby to be close to Mom and Dad. If your newborn is placed on your chest continuously after birth, your baby will feel your continued warmth and begin to search for milk for food.
Keep in mind, breastfeeding a baby after a c-section can prove to be more challenging because of obvious reasons such as anesthesia, pain, recovery but just as Moms that had a vaginal birth, having your baby on your breast within the first hour should be your goal. Because of anesthesia from a c-section, your milk might be prolonged and your baby might also be lethargic but this should not be a reason to not continue to try to breastfeed after birth. Keep stimulating your baby to get them going, they will slowly become more alert. For more on positioning breastfeeding after a c-section read on…
Are you pregnant and inching towards a c-section? Talk to your doctor, doula, midwife about preparing for skin to skin after surgery and reach out to a breastfeeding consultant beforehand. The extra help is key!
Just remember, babies are meant to be snuggled and stay close to Mom and Dad! So if after a c-section Mom and Dad need more help from medical staff, family or loved ones to help perform skin to skin - don't let a c-section stop you! Research reported in the journal "Current Biology" states that touch is critical for a baby’s development and this touch remains a footprint on their brains. Gentle touch for all newborns, especially those born premature, may help develop cognition, communication and behavior later on in life. For premature babies, it was found that the babies who experienced skin to skin had higher IQs, significantly larger areas of gray matter in the brain and less propensity towards hyperactivity and aggression later in life. Another study focused on full term babies, and those who experienced skin to skin postnatal had better cardio-respiratory stability, higher breastfeeding rates and decreased crying.
So whose to blame here when skin to skin does not happen after a cesarean birth? Who stands responsible for not advising Mom on the benefits? Well in my opinion it is the responsibility of both the Mom, the family and the medical staff (midwifes, pediatricians, doulas) to give options and known benefits for skin to skin. And to not erase this process from the board simply because a patient wishes or has to have a cesarean.
Lots of love Mum to Be