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Think it’s not possible to experience the magic of holding your baby skin-to-skin and breastfeed in the operating room after a cesarean birth? We are happy to share that, in many cases, it is possible!
Though it is not (yet) common practice, a growing number of providers are embracing skin-to-skin and breastfeeding immediately following a c-section. This is part of a movement toward a more family-centered (or “gentle”) cesarean birth experience. We can’t guarantee that your provider will agree to skin-to-skin and breastfeeding immediately following a c-section birth, but we are happy to share some tips for increasing the chances that you will have this opportunity.
Research has shown that immediate or early skin-to-skin contact after a cesarean birth may increase breastfeeding initiation, decrease time to the first breastfeed, reduce formula supplementation in hospital, increase bonding and maternal satisfaction, maintain the temperature of newborns and reduce newborn stress, as well as reduce NICU admissions. That's probably why hospitals nationwide are moving to provide earlier skin-to-skin contact for babies born by c-section. According to data from the CDC, the percentage of hospitals reporting that most patients experience skin-to-skin contact for at least 30 minutes within 2 hours of uncomplicated cesarean birth rose from 32% in 2009 to 70% in 2015. (Data on the location of that skin-to-skin time, and on the prevalence of breastfeeding in the operating room is not available).
Whether you’re expecting a planned cesarean or want a back-up plan just in case you have an unplanned cesarean, it’s worth doing some exploring and planning. Here are some tips:
“I do not want my arms strapped down during the operation.”
“I would like the IV catheter, oximeter, and blood pressure cuff all placed on my (non-dominant) arm to give me a completely free arm to touch my baby.”
“I would like ECG leads to be placed on my back, to make my chest free for skin-to-skin contact.”
“I would like to hold my baby skin-to-skin and to breastfeed in the OR. I may need help doing this from my partner or a nurse.”
“Please don’t swaddle my baby so that he/she can be skin-to-skin with me. I’d like my baby to be able to move and I’d like to see him/her unobscured. To keep us warm, once my baby is on my chest you can cover both of us with a warm blanket.”
“If I am physically unable to hold my baby skin-to-skin even with support, I would like my partner/other support person to hold our baby skin-to-skin as soon as possible.”
It's never too early to prepare for your different birthing options. Understanding your rights and documenting your wishes can help experience the magic of birth.
*This information is provided for educational purposes only, and is not medical advice. Consult your health care provider before using this information.