Mom & Baby: Skin to Skin

Maternity care in the hospital includes technology. Fetal monitors, intrauterine pressure catheters, pitocin pumps, epidural pumps and overhead infant radiant warmers are a part of routine care.

Homebirth minimizes the use of technology.  Instead of fetal monitors, hand held dopplers are used to check the baby’s heart beat intermittently. Instead of contractions stimulated by pitocin, the uterus contracts at its own pace.  Instead of an epidural, position changes, warm and cold compresses, massage and warm water baths provide pain relief.  Instead of radiant warmers, skin to skin contact between mom and baby maintains the infant’s body temperature.

Recently the Joint Commission of Hospital Accreditation recommended that hospitals document the amount of skin to skin contact that infants receive in the hours following birth. New research indicates that skin to skin contact promotes bonding and the establishment of breastfeeding. The goal is to improve breastfeeding rates in the U.S.

Skin to skin contact also promotes a healthy microbiome. In the early newborn time period infants are establishing healthy bacteria in their intestine. The skin to skin contact and breastfeeding both have a role. The microbiome is a new area of research about healthy beginnings for infants.

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