Uninterrupted Skin-To-Skin Contact After Birth - What Does That Actually Mean For Your Birth?
If you haven't heard of one of the newer concepts that couples are putting in their plans "uninterrupted skin-to-skin for the first hour," add this to your list of things to chat with your Doctor/Midwife and Us! (your doulas) It's a practice that we see gaining popularity at local hospitals in the Metro-Detroit area. But what does it mean?
The name can be misleading: uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact after birth. Uninterrupted. The title itself implies mom and partner will be able to bask in the glow of this brand new baby placed on mom's chest immediately after birth. That nothing else will happen, unless medically necessary, during that first hour. And while we have seen this part of normal protocol with our local hospitals, it seems that the details vary depending on the hospital and medical provider.
To make it a little easier, here are a few procedures that may take place while you are making that first eye contact.
1. Your Baby Gets Cleaned Off and Wiped Down- some hospitals and nursing staff normally wipe down the baby and clear their airway before placing the baby on mom's chest or after baby has been snuggled up to mom. You have the option to talk to your doctor about the risks/benefits to letting your baby clear their own airway rather than sucking it clear. You also have the option to decline any cleaning of the baby. Leaving the vernix (the cheesy looking stuff) on your baby is also an option.
2. Your Uterus is Palpated- after delivery, your nursing staff are going to very focused on getting that uterus back down to normal size and encouraging the placenta to be delivered right after your baby is born. Talk to your doctor/midwife about this practice. They can explain the process and reasons behind it. This is typically necessary but if you're not comfortable with this practice you can ask what your other options are.
3. Your Doctor or Midwife May Put Traction On the Umbilical Cord- the next goal after you have birthed your little one is delivering the placenta. Some providers have different methods of getting this task completed. Having someone pulling on your umbilical cord may not be expected (or welcomed) when you are still soaking up the new baby glow.
4. The Umbilical Cord is Cut- if you are planning to do delayed cord clamping then this might hinder your ability to have your baby fully on your chest if your cord is short. It's possible for it to only allow you to hold the baby on your abdomen while you wait for the cord to stop pulsating.
5. You May Be Given an Injection of Pitocin- again, this is all within your practitioners comfort zone and wanting to control excessive bleeding when the placenta is detached and delivered. you can decline the use of this injection immediately after the baby is delivered and ask your doctor about delaying the injection if excessive bleeding occurs. They may have great resources for you to look into for different options.
6. Your Medical Provider May Manually Remove Your Placenta- again, all within your providers preference on how long they like to wait for the placenta to be birthed. Some like to see it delivered within 5 minutes, others prefer 15 minutes. But knowing what their protocol is when it isn't delivered within the time they prefer can make all the difference in being prepared.
7. You May Need Stitches- this can be very shocking when cuddling your newborn. Stitches are sometimes necessary when there is a tear or episiotomy and then need to be repaired after the birth. But waiting until you have that bonding time can be a nice rest for you. But you may also feel like getting everything medically necessary for yourself done in "one shot."
The awesome thing about all these options is that they are all YOURS! Motor City Birth Services loves empowering our clients to ask their provider about this process for when their baby is finally placed on their chest. We encourage cultivating that open dialog with your provider to know exactly what their preferences are for procedures after your little one arrives. Whatever you decide to utilize, or decline, we are there for you! This is YOUR day and YOUR child. Make the most of your first day together by knowing your options.