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C-Section Moms and Babies United for Golden Hour Bonding

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Baby feetNew moms, doctors, and nurses are thrilled with a new practice at St. Luke's which keeps mothers and babies together after cesarean section deliveries.

Staff from the Birthing Center, Surgery, Ob/Gyn, and Pediatrics departments worked together to ensure that since May 2013, new mothers and their newly arrived bundles of joy have been able to spend their precious first minutes together.

The 60 minutes after birth is known as the Golden Hour when bonding between mother and baby is maximized. Research shows that breastfeeding and bonding are improved when there is skin-to-skin contact early on.

"Babies come out primed to be most awake for the first hour or two, and that's typically when they learn to breastfeed," said Dr. Heather Winesett, of St. Luke's Pediatric Associates. "Mom and dad spending skin-to-skin time with the baby on that first day also increases their confidence around the baby."

Previously, after undergoing a cesarean section, a mother would watch her newborn be taken away by a nurse, the father or another family member while she waited in the recovery room.

"One of the biggest complaints that I had from mothers having a cesarean section was that they had to wait an hour or more to see their baby," said Dr. Aimee Van Straaten, of St. Luke's Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates. "Now, the baby stays in the operating room with them while we are doing the surgery and then stays with them in the recovery room, also."

There were logistical considerations before the change in practice could be introduced. Supplies and equipment normally kept in the Birthing Center had to be made available in the operating room and recovery room. Pediatricians and family practice providers needed to be made aware they would be doing the baby's first assessment in the recovery room, rather than the Birthing Center, if delivered by cesarean section. And there needed to be a dedicated Birthing Center nurse to remain with the baby as mom recovered post-surgery.

"I've had really good feedback so far from patients, who are really happy about it," said Dr. Van Straaten. "It was a big thing how traumatic it was for moms to be away from their baby for so long."

New mom Carrie Bolen's daughter Fiona Jean was delivered by cesarean section at St. Luke's on July 1. Having had a boy by cesarean section three years ago, she was pleased to find her baby would stay with her this time around.

"It was absolutely wonderful having her stay with me," said Carrie. "That was one of the things I had been disappointed about – that I wouldn't get to hold her right away, and everyone else would. She has had no problems nursing, and they say that the sooner they get that skin-to-skin contact, the more it helps."

Husband Dave Bolen was also positive about the new practice, saying the process seemed calmer, and he appreciated being able to stay with both his wife and daughter.

The only exceptions to the new practice are cesarean sections where the mother requires general anesthesia or instances where the mother or baby are not medically stable.