There are lots of things you can do to help you and your baby have a more natural start, even if that start involves surgery.
Labor Babies know when they need to be born. Waiting until your baby signals he’s ready means your baby is born “on time,” without the post-birth complications
Scent Mothers who have a chance to smell and touch the baby before she’s cleaned up find they feel more attached sooner. At least have the baby touched to your cheek immediately after the delivery, to leave her still-wet scent with you.
Touch Your surgeons can probably arrange the drapes at the start so that you can have your baby on your chest immediately after the birth. If you can touch her, wonderful. If you can simply feel her weight on (not in!) your body, wonderful.
Sharing bacteria Babies are born sterile but pick up their mothers’ normal bacteria when they’re born vaginally. A recent study indicates that babies born surgically are at a higher risk of allergies, presumably because they miss out on those normal Mama-germs and end up with whatever the hospital has to offer. Have your surgical staff take a piece of gauze, wipe it across your vagina, and stroke it on your newly-born baby. If they are unwilling to do so (the allergy information is new, and this suggestion is unresearched) you can do it yourself or have your partner or a nurse do it for you as soon as possible. Colonizing your baby with your own bacteria might also reduce your risk of mastitis. And while you’re at it, you might want to have the parent with the better teeth give a big, sloppy kiss on the mouth. That may help colonize the baby’s mouth with the best oral bacteria your family has to offer, which may help reduce cavities later on.
Skin-to-skin Back in your room, keep your baby’s bare skin on your bare skin as much as you can. Babies are the most secure when they have their bare chest against their mother, and secure babies are better breastfeeders. Skin-to-skin contact regulates your baby’s temperature, breathing, and blood sugar, makes both of you feel better faster, and reinforces the sharing of good bacteria. When you’re in the bathroom, someone else can hold him. Families love sharing skin with babies, once they try it.
Breastfeeding Babies are normally able to locate their mother’s breast, wriggle to it, and attach with very little help from mom. If your baby has delivery medications to recover from, it may take a bit longer. You can express colostrum into a plastic spoon any time you like, and give it to your baby. (That first day, his stomach is no bigger than a marble, which means he can handle only a little food at a time and needs it often.) Stay skin-to-skin with him, and you’ll be surprised at what he can do, once he wakes up a bit!
©2012 Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC normalfed.com