First, a note: I received a great comment from my friend Megan on the last post and I started to write back to her, but as I typed, and typed, and typed, I realized my response would be better served as a blog post. As it turns out, this is going to be a two-parter, because I have so much to say. I’d love to know what your thoughts on this are as well, so please leave me a comment!
I think, in general, there is a vast contrast between hospital and home birth as far as the first minutes and hours of the baby’s life. There is also a contrast between in-hospital midwife deliveries and OB deliveries, but regardless of practitioner, in most, but certainly not all cases, babies born in hospitals spend more time away from their mothers at birth than do babies born at home.
Despite the importance of early contact for attachment and breastfeeding, most babies were not in their mothers’ arms during the first hour after birth, with a troubling proportion with staff for routine, nonurgent care (39%). Listening to Mothers II: Report of the Second National U.S. Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences
A good example of this can be seen in almost every birth shown on the Lifetime TV show I referenced last week. Several minutes pass and several procedures are done before baby is put skin to skin with mom, if baby even goes skin-to-skin at all — in many cases the babies are completely swaddled before being handed to mom for the first time.
This may look cute and cozy, but it does nothing for baby and mama.
That sort of birth practice is all too common in US hospitals. According to the 2007 CDC National Survey of Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care, only 40.4% of the facilities surveyed reported that “most” patients experience mother-infant skin-to-skin contact for at least 30 minutes within 1 hour of uncomplicated vaginal birth and only 29.3% reported skin-to-skin for at least 30 minutes within 2 hours of uncomplicated cesarean birth. Continue reading