Nurtured by touch of a mother’s skin

Herolene Uithaler

THE skin-to-skin mother to child bonding programme implemented at the Life St George’s Hospital is proving to be a success. More than 90% of women who give birth at the hospital are choosing to participate in the initiative.

The process begins at birth and involves placing the naked baby – head covered with a dry cap and a warm blanket across the back – on the mother’s bare chest.

Life St George’s Hospital maternity unit manager Sister Pauline Kieck said the programme has been in place for almost two years, although doctors were reluctant about it at first. It is now an option for mothers who give natural birth and those who have a caesarian section.

“We started with the C-section skin-to-skin programme at the beginning of June,” Kieck said.

“Doctors eventually came around after we assured them and theatre staff that the outcomes for mothers and babies are better.”

Kieck says more than 90% of mothers who give birth at the hospital take part in the experience on a daily basis.

“Mothers seldom decline to participate.

“I would say that about 95% – 98% of mothers do the skinto-skin bonding, so it has been absolutely successful.

“They are quite happy and we have not received any negative responses,” she said.

Taryn Griffin, one of the mothers who took part in the programme, described it as an exciting experience when she gave birth to her second born, Emma Kate.

“She was put on my chest and lay with me the whole time in theatre and when we went into recovery.

“I was able to feed her, and my husband stayed with me in recovery.

“It gave us amazing family time together and such nice bonding time with my little Emma,” Griffin said.

Netcare Greenacres Hospital has also adopted the practice, and maternity unit manager Sister Diana Rae said although some difficulties occurred, the parent generally enjoyed the process.

“There are occasions when the programme is difficult, but we try and work around those challenges,” Rae said.

“When a newborn has complications and the mother is still drowsy after having been put under general anaesthetic, skin-to-skin may be delayed until both are stable.

“After that, it becomes a very special moment for the new parents.”

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