By Holly Menino
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — As parents, many of you know that things don’t always go according to your plan. When Ashanti Li mapped out her birth plan, she knew she’d have to be flexible.
“I’m over 40, so there was some special risk factors,” Li said.
Li wanted a combination of old and new medicine used during her delivery.
“The idea was that we were going to do natural child birth, and that part of that plan was that after the baby is born you have an hour of skin-to-skin contact,” Li said.
Li’s plan started going out the window when she had to be induced a week before her due date. After several hours of hard labor, doctors performed an emergency cesarean section and Li’s plan was toast, except for one part.
“Skin-to-skin is the one thing that stayed stable and I knew I would get that no matter c-section or natural birth, because that’s what they have here,” Li said.
“After the mom has delivered, we take the baby and put the baby right on top of her chest,” said Dir. of Obstetric Services at Sacred Heart Vern Katz.
Doctors say the skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth promotes good breast feeding.
“So if we put babies skin to skin and we allow them to initiate the first breast feeding, we’re more likely to have a baby and a mom that stay together as a breast-feeding couple for a longer time,” said Sacred Heart Labor & Delivery Educator Cindy Hunter.
There are also some physiologic benefits with that initial first touch.
“Babies have more stable blood sugars, temperatures. Their breathing is more regular,” Hunter said.
Hospitals across the country aren’t just initiating that immediate skin-to-skin contact with vaginal births. Some are now doing it with c-sections.
“We’ve had no complications. We’ve obviously been monitoring it. It doesn’t increase the risk of infections. It does promote everything we’re trying to promote, which is good infant and mother bonding,” Katz said.
Li’s delivery didn’t go according to her plan, but the one thing that did was holding her daughter to her chest right after birth.
“You can’t predict what happens in the rest of the world, but that first hour of life and contact together, that’s a gift that everybody should get,” Li said.
Both Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend and McKenzie-Willamette will bring a baby immediately to its mother’s chest after birth — even with a c-section — unless there’s a medical reason not to.