Soon after a baby is born Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Hospital, the baby is placed on his or her mother’s bare chest.
The baby, while only wearing a hat and diaper, rests belly down on the mother’s chest, skin touching skin.
Diann Watts, OB nurse manager at Whitesburg ARH, said this bonding experience gives babies a chance to calm down and reunite with their mothers instead of being taken from the mother right after delivery.
“They are relaxed,” said Watts. “It has been very good for the babies. It’s more like a home birth feeling to the mom and baby.”
In the old procedure, nurses would take babies to the nurse station soon after the baby was born to be washed, measured and weighed. Watts said many times babies were fussy.
“They scream and cry,” said Watts. “It is a separation thing.”
In the last few weeks, several babies born at Whitesburg ARH have been placed skin to skin with their mothers right after delivery in a technique called kangaroo care.
“They will lie on their mom and listen to the mom’s heartbeat and are cool as a cucumber,” said Watts. “It regulates the baby’s temperature. It brings the baby’s heartbeat to normal. By the time we get them they are very calm.”
For the past six months nurses at Whitesburg ARH have been studying the idea of kangaroo care. Nurses from University of Louisville provided the Whitesburg nurses with training on kangaroo care.
“It’s a big change in the way we do things,” said Watts. “It really is the best thing for the baby. For a baby to start out like this is awesome.”
In addition to motherand baby bonding, Watts said another benefit of kangaroo care is a goal of increasing breastfeeding.
Once a baby is calmly lying on his or her mother’s chest, the baby will naturally make his or her way to the mother’s breast.
All mothers who deliver their babies at Whitesburg ARH are told about kangaroo care by a nurse. Watts said so far all of the mothers who have delivered babies in the last few weeks have participated in kangaroo care and enjoyed it.
“The doctors and midwives have been very supportive of it,” said Watts.
Watts said kangaroo care may not be able to be practiced right away if an infant is sick. If a baby is delivered by Caesarean section, the father can lay the baby on his chest until the mother is ready.
“It makes them feel like they have a part in the birth,” said Watts.