From Womb To World: Why Skin-to-Skin Contact Is Crucial

From Womb To World: Why Skin-to-Skin Contact Is Crucial

The welcome which a baby receives as she comes out of the womb and into the world has a lasting and profound impact on her overall health and well-being. 

The first hour is a crucial hour for the newborn as she is ejected from the comfort cocoon that was the womb into the cold and sterile hospital surroundings. Skin-to-skin contact with the mother at this stage helps to calm the baby. 

What exactly is skin-to-skin contact?

Skin-to-skin care, or “Kangaroo Care,” means placing the dried and unclothed baby on her mother’s bare chest with a light blanket covering the baby’s body. Routine check-up of the mother and the baby can be conducted during this period, or it can be postponed till later. 

Benefits of skin-to-skin contact:

  • Several research studies have conclusively shown that babies who are given skin-to-skin contact immediately post birth show better physiological stability. Human touch helps stabilize the newborn’s respiration, increases glucose levels, gives warmth and regulates blood pressure. 
  • An infant separated from the mother or the ‘host,’ experiences physiological and psychological withdrawal, in addition to the anxiety of being removed from a stable and warm environment. At this stage, skin-to-skin contact established with the mother goes a long way in soothing the baby. The reassuring contact eases the separation process as the child is released from the umbilical cord and graduates from being ‘one’ organism with the mother to ‘another’.
  • Oxytocin, or the ‘love hormone’ released during skin-to-skin contact helps mother and child bond better. Mothers who have cradled their newborn post birth are more likely to feel confident in their parenting abilities. Lack of skin-to-skin bonding and early separation of mother and baby may delay crucial maternal-infant bonding and may even negatively impact the mother’s response to her baby. 
  • Another very powerful and positive impact of establishing skin-to-skin contact after birth is that it facilitates breastfeeding. Mammals are born with the instinctive urge to breastfeed. When placed against the mother as soon as they are born they are able to find the breast and self-attach. Research shows that women who had skin-to-skin contact with their naked babies right after birth breastfeed longer and typically breastfeed months longer than mothers who did not get a chance to establish this contact. 

Undoubtedly, the benefits of mother and baby skin-to-skin contact are manifold and far-reaching. Perhaps it is time to consider introducing this age-old tradition back in the modern delivery process. Hospitals and clinics must actively make use of this ‘golden hour’ or the first sixty minutes immediately post birth. Skin-to-skin contact should be established immediately after birth and should last for at least sixty minutes. This is a no-cost initiative which positively affects maternal and child outcomes. 

Skin-to-skin bonding is a natural process which, over the years somehow de-linked from the clinical birthing process. Now is the time to actively introduce it back in the delivery and childbirth process.

Skin-to-skin contact is not yet very common in India. Now is the time to lobby to bring it into the mainstream! Did you get to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby right after delivery? Share your delivery story with us at info@togetherforher.com and be featured on our website!

References:

  1. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/806325
  2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/newborn-kangaroo-care
  3. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-birth-skin-idUSKBN13V2UZ

Team Together
30 May 2017

5 Conditions That Endanger Childbirth

5 Conditions That Endanger Childbirth

Their appearance is a red flag.

Conditions you may never have had before can develop during your pregnancy. It is absolutely vital that these conditions be diagnosed as early as possible, as they could lead to a high-risk pregnancy and seriously affect the birth. They can determine whether you have a normal delivery or a Caesarian (C-section). Moreover, their effects may persist or manifest long after you have given birth.

  1. Haemorrhage: Uncontrolled Bleeding During Pregnancy or Birth:

Severe blood loss during pregnancy, labour or the post-partum period is alarming and the number one threat to maternal health.[1] If you experience vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, immediately bring it to the attention of a doctor.  During childbirth, bleeding can be treated with blood transfusions and/or manual removal of the placenta. “Oxytocics” are drugs which induce uterine contractions and they may also be used to stop the bleeding.

  1. Hypertension: High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy or Birth:

You may never ever have had high blood pressure in your life. But if it makes an appearance during pregnancy, it needs careful monitoring as it could be a sign of “pre-eclampsia.” If left untreated, pre-eclampsia can lead to eclampsia and raise a high risk of seizures, kidney failure and even coma. In the worst case, eclampsia can even be fatal for the mother and/or infant.[2]

Fortunately, pre-eclampsia can be detected during pregnancy and pre-emptive measures taken. Monitoring blood pressure during every prenatal check-up, conducting a through physical examination, screening for protein in the urine and generalized swelling (edema) are important to detect pre-eclampsia.  During childbirth, sedative or anti-convulsant medication can also be administered.

  1. Pregnancy-related Infections:

At the clinic or in daily life, when it comes to hygiene, the bar must be set high. Poor hygiene and a disregard for infection control practices can really stack up the risks for infection (sepsis) during pregnancy and childbirth. Moreover, care must be taken to prevent and treat sexually transmitted infections during pregnancy. Rigidly following infection control protocols, conducting appropriate prenatal testing, and use of intravenous (IV) or intramuscular (IM) antibiotics during childbirth and the post-partum period keeps infections in check.

  1. Prolonged or obstructed labour:

In other words, the stuff childbirth horror stories are made of! In some cases, it’s a size thing: a disproportion between the size of the baby’s head and the mother’s pelvis (Cephalopelvic disproportion a.k.a. CPD) at the time of delivery. Or, it could be the position of the foetus. This is when assisted vaginal delivery methods such as forceps extraction, vacuum, or a Caesarian section (C-section) need to be employed.

  1. Anaemia During Pregnancy and Birth:

One in two women in India (an estimated 56%) suffers from some form of anaemia, regardless of socioeconomic background.[3] In pregnancy and childbirth, a haemoglobin count of less than 8 g/dl is regarded high risk. Anaemia associated with pregnancy is a weird chicken-and-egg situation: anaemia in the mother can lead to poor foetal development. Then, complications during the birth, such as bleeding, can be a risk factor for anaemia. Screening for anaemia and its management through an iron-rich diet or iron supplements, therefore, are crucial.

Obstetric conditions like these, unfortunately, have consequences beyond childbirth. Learn about the lasting effects they can have on your quality of life.

Did you experience one or more of these conditions during pregnancy and/or childbirth? Share with us at info@togetherforher.com and be featured on  our website!

References:

  1. Felippi V, Chou D et al. Levels and causes of maternal morbidity and mortality
  2. Causes of Maternal Mortality
  3. Kaur, K. Anaemia, a ‘silent killer’ among women in India: Present scenario

Team Together
21 Aug 2017

Pregnancy and Everyday Travel

Pregnancy and Everyday Travel

Travelling during pregnancy is one of the trickiest things to do – We, Indian women, are very superstitious when it comes to travelling during pregnancy and most of us would even stop travelling to keep our babies safe. Healthcare professionals worldwide have always maintained that travelling in pregnancy isn’t really a risky thing,  in fact, doctors say that in the first trimester, travelling by any mode is safe. But we can always be cautious. 
One must remember that as the pregnancy progresses, the joints are less stable and the centre of gravity is altered and the bump tends to overbalance the pregnant woman.

Let’s discuss these modes of travel and see what precautions need to be taken:

1. Two wheelers: Riding a two-wheeler is safe in the first trimester because the body hasn’t undergone major changes. After 12 weeks, when the body weight increases, this mode of travel is risky. It is also because of the unruly traffic and bumpy roads everywhere. Precaution to be taken:  while riding pillion, sit with legs on both sides as compared to sitting sideways. 


2. Three wheelers/Auto-rickshaw: Considerably a safer option, as it is covered from all sides unlike a two-wheeler and is one of the most preferred options of travel. However, one should still keep in mind the bumps and the traffic and ask the driver to mind these.


3. Bus (Public Transport): Most pregnant mothers prefer travelling by buses as they are safe and more relaxing as compared to other modes.  Also, it is the cheapest way of going from one destination to another. One must keep in mind, to not travel during peak hours, to choose ladies special buses, if available. Getting down and boarding is bus may prove to be tricky as the pregnancy progresses, so it is important to take help from co-passengers. You can always ask fellow passengers to give you a seat. 


4. Trains: A lot of pregnant women prefer commuting by train to work nowadays as well. In fact, it is safer to travel on the train unless it is the peak travel hour when it is a little tricky. Trains allow more movement as compared to other modes of transport and offer one the chance to relax and even put their feet up in case of tiredness/numbness/stiffness. A train travel also means there is no chance of encountering traffic so it is easier to reach the destination on time. For a long distance travel, a woman must be careful while washing the washroom in the train- preferably go to the washroom when the train is at a station or is moving slow.


5. Cars/Cabs/Taxis: One of the biggest challenges while commuting to work in a car are the bumpy, narrow roads. It makes this mode of travel risky. Having said that, it can’t be denied that it is a comfortable mode as well. A pregnant woman should carry a cushion/soft clothes that will help back-pain during car travels. Also, driving after the second trimester isn’t advised because the bump grows bigger and it is an uncomfortable position.

6. Aeroplane: An expensive mode of travel but is also the fastest. Travelling in the first trimesters are as safe as one can expect. After 28 weeks (beginning of the third trimester), flight requires a certificate from the doctor.  A pregnant woman may experience nausea/breathlessness during air travel, so it is advisable to sip water every few minutes. It is also advisable to ask for an aisle seat, towards the rear as it is easier to get up from there and walk to the washroom.W

How has been your experience with travelling? Do you have anything that we haven’t shared here? Write to us at info@togetherforher.com!

Team Together
18 Dec 2018

Mothers: let’s accept ourselves first

Mothers: let’s accept ourselves first

With the birth of a baby, comes in a lot of comparisons: of both the mother and the child. Everyone compares the mother to other mothers around or of the previous generation, the same goes for the children. Have we ever thought how -painful  this could -be for the mother?

Comparing the mode of delivery (vaginal vs c section), type of feeding (Breastfeeding vs formula feeding), how the mother takes the child out (baby carriers vs strollers vs carrying them in arms). Everything that a woman does, is prone to judgement! Little do people realise that they criticise both sides of the coins. Nothing is really acceptable to them. This is like saying whatever you do, you will be judged, Woman!

In fact, even the babies aren’t spared. Why is he so lean? Why isn’t he rolling over yet, he is already 5 months old. Why isn’t he crawling/walking/talking yet? Why is he still breastfeeding? Why is he not potty/pee trained?

All these statements lead us to believe that there are two important solutions to these problems. one is receiving the acceptance from others around us and the second is accepting ourselves, as we are.

Acceptance from others

When the child is 5/10/15 years old, is anyone ever going to be bothered about when did he first rollover/crawl/walk/speak? Will anyone ever ask his mother how did she give birth to him? Or did she breastfeed him or not? If these things are not going to matter after a few years, why are we judging the women then? What kind of pleasure are we deriving out of this?

We spoke to 15 mothers and they told us that being judgmental is the easiest thing to do. While accepting things is difficult, it is not impossible. Let us do ourselves a favour and stop judging other women and their kids over various parameters.

Accepting oneself

What can be worse than nagging aunties/ neighbours/other women/colleagues, is when we judge ourselves.

  • We need to accept that the toys will be strewn all over the house and it is perfectly alright to let it be like that. The laundry may not be done on time and the worse is that it may not even be hung out to dry on time.
  • It is okay to take late and quick showersand have absolutely no time to even brush your hair every single day. Most mothers say that on most days, they brush their hair only when they wash them.
  • We need to accept that children don’t sleep through the night for the first two years of their lives and it’s perfectly normal for a mother to feel sleepless. It’s a phase everyone goes through.
  • Social life changes and YES, it is a big change. Mothers don’t get to go out alone on most days. In fact, mothers who stay in nuclear families don’t even get to use the washroom without their child(ren) being around. Women tend to lose out on friends as well. This is because not everyone would be interested in talking about baby potty, their feeding time etc. It’s time to make friends with other mommies now.
  • It is normal for the kids to have bad days, the days when they are cranky, clingy and howling out. As a family, such moods rub off on each other and the parents become irritated as well. Let’s be honest, it is not easy to remain calm when the kid is crying and there is nothing that you can do to ease his pain. But as an adult, if we lose our cool, who will take care of the child?

Let’s accept that our lives have changed after the arrival of the baby. This small acceptance goes a long way in keeping ourselves happy. The end result being a happy mother leads to a happy child and eventually a happy family.

Team Together
09 Jan 2019

Dad In The Delivery Room: Yes or No?

Dad In The Delivery Room: Yes or No?

Dad in the delivery room: Yes or No?

Being by her side could mean the world to her!

The support a woman receives during labour and childbirth shapes her lasting perceptions of the experience.

A generation ago, in India, the idea of anyone from the family being present in the labour room was unheard of, and certainly not encouraged. However, with growing awareness and better facilities coming into play, many care facilities located in urban areas are open to the idea of partner-assisted delivery, i.e. allowing fathers in the delivery room. Some doctors even encourage fathers to cut the umbilical cord after birth. If you want to be present at your child’s birth, here’s what a father in the delivery room should expect:

Top 5 tips for dads planning to be present in the delivery room:

Firstly, if you are squeamish at the thought, perhaps being in the labour room is not for you! However, remember that childbirth is a beautiful process of bringing a child, your child, into the world, and having you by her side could mean the world to your partner who is giving birth through a lot of pain. Consider a few things before choosing whether you would like to be present during delivery.

1. If the sight of blood troubles you, don’t hesitate to express this concern to the doctor on call. Indeed, this is the stuff of many funny moments or videos of dads in the delivery room. In such cases, ask if your partner’s close family member could be with her instead.

2. Some doctors still hold traditional views about the presence of the father in the delivery room, and perhaps with good reason. Improper hygiene in the room can lead to
infections for both the mother and child
If you do decide to be in the room, comply with the house regulations and wear any and all protective gear provided to you.

3. A woman having a vaginal birth is likely in a lot of pain. Having your calm presence by her side is a show of strength and support for what she is going through. Don’t panic- the doctors know what they are doing.

4. If at any point in time, the doctors ask you to leave the room due to a complication or procedure, don’t argue with them. Step out of the room and ask a senior administrator to update you on what is going on.

5. If you or your partner have concerns about how you may perceive your intimacy after witnessing your partner give birth, discuss this with her and the doctor before choosing to be there. While it is advisable, even desirable, that the dad be present during childbirth, it shouldn’t become a problem between the two of you at a later time.

If you haven’t considered being present in the labour room before, now is as good a time as any! Think through all the consequences of this choice. It is a great source of support for your partner, and we bet you will never witness anything as beautiful as childbirth!Did you find this article helpful? If you’re a mom-to-be, will you share this with your partner? If you’re a mom, was your partner present at the birth of your child? Share your experience with us at info@togetherforher.com and be featured on our website!

5 Benefits Of Early Breastfeeding, And Reasons Why It May Not Always Happen As Planned

5 Benefits Of Early Breastfeeding, And Reasons Why It May Not Always Happen As Planned

The classic image of a mother nursing her baby is ingrained in us since time immemorial. Early breastfeeding is definitely a healthy start for the mother and child, but what do you do when it doesn’t happen that way?

Early Breastfeeding And Its Benefits:

Early breastfeeding is the process of beginning to feed the newborn right after, or within one hour of childbirth. Early breastfeeding has many benefits. Here are the top 5:

  1. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends early initiation of breastfeeding, as it helps you and your child be committed to exclusive breastfeeding for longer. [1]
  2. The colostrum or early breast milk is rich in antibodies and nutrients. This gives newborns and their immunity a head start.
  3. Nursing the baby, when coupled with skin-to-skin contact in the early hours and days ensures that the newborn has a steady body temperature and blood sugar level. [2]
  4. Breastfeeding right after delivery can reduce the chances of hemorrhage for the mother. [2]
  5. In scenarios where care resources are low, regularly nursing the baby can help protect the newborn from infections and subsequent mortality. [3]

When Breastfeeding May Not Be An Option

However, mothers may struggle with early breastfeeding due to a variety of reasons. Practical considerations, including the best interest of the mother’s health, may prevent mothers from being able to feed their newborns themselves. As a new mother, keen to get every little step right for your precious child, it may be a huge disappointment when you learn that early breastfeeding may not be possible. Guilt will definitely loom large. Know that, as the mother, you’re doing your best. The rest you must leave to the medical professionals.

  • A C-section or an episiotomy can both result in stitches and pain of varying degrees. In such situations, it may not be advisable or possible for you to assume a sitting position and hold your baby. In due course, your doctor may advise suitable breastfeeding positions to try.
  • Some mothers find that milk doesn’t flow after delivery, for reasons beyond anyone’s control. Putting undue pressure on yourself in these situations can be counter-productive and even detrimental to your health.
  • In some rare cases, such as need for further surgeries or procedures, either the mother or the child may be too indisposed. During such situations, breast feeding is not the primary concern. 
  • Due to medical complications, a newborn may be placed in the NICU, where physical access to the mother might be restricted. It would be in the best interest of the baby to first avert the medical crisis and then attempt breastfeeding.
  • The mother may experience swollen and painful breasts, or even abscesses, that prevent her from being able to breastfeed. Treating the mother’s discomfort becomes first priority. 
  • Even if you have to discontinue after an early start, always put yourself first and allow yourself to heal. The doctors and nurses will attend to the baby.

Whatever the reason may be, if you find that you aren’t breast feeding easily, relax and don’t stress. If you think you would like to give it another shot, a lactation consultant or the gynecologist can give you breastfeeding tips or help teach you how to breastfeed. Every mother and child cherishes the bond of breastfeeding, but thankfully today alternatives are available to ensure the child’s health is not disadvantaged in any way.

Do you have a story of your own, or breastfeeding tips for other moms? Write to us at info@togetherforher.com and be featured on our website!

References:

  1. Early initiation of breastfeeding to promote exclusive breastfeeding, World Health Organization
  2. Breastfeeding, Alive and Thrive Technical Resources
  3. Begum, Khadija, and Kathryn G. Dewey. “Impact of early initiation of exclusive breastfeeding on newborn deaths.” (2010).

Team Together
30 May 2017