Skin-to-skin newborn after C-section

Last month, Brandon Gill New gave birth via a medically necessary C-section, becoming the second mother to take advantage of the skin-to-skin technique at Sunnybrook hospital. (Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre)

Some babies born by caesarean section at a Toronto hospital will be able to bond with mom with skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery to gain health benefits.

Birthing experts advocate skin-to-skin or kangaroo care — putting the baby directly on the mother’s upper abdomen soon after a vaginal birth.

"Skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth helps babies regulate their temperature and glucose levels," says Dr. Jon Barrett, chief of maternal-fetal medicine at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

"It promotes bonding, and babies often initiate breastfeeding on their own from that position as well," he added in a release.

Usually when babies are born by C-section, mom gets her first cuddle about three to five minutes after the newborn is clean and receives routine care.

Maria Montano-Lalla, 35, of Markham, Ont., said she wanted to enjoy skin-to-skin contact. Her son Tomas, who is now 20 months old, evidently had other plans when he was found in a knees-to-face breech position during labour.

She was told they wouldn’t be doing skin-to-skin immediately, which she regrets even though she recognizes it was out of her hands.

"I didn't have that initial, 'Here, here's your baby' like other moms would have," Montano-Lalla said. "I just feel like it was a regret and obviously it was out of my hands."

Dad Lino Lalla held Tomas skin to skin after he was cleaned up and during the 10 minutes his mom was being stitched up.  

"He didn't get to cut the umbilical cord but he got to do that, which I think trumps that whole umbilical thing. He smells you, you go through so many emotions. It's so important."

Montano-Lalla calls Sunnybrook’s approach fantastic.

Barrett noted that skin-to-skin C-section isn’t always an option, even in low-risk deliveries. It isn’t appropriate in emergency C-sections.

The obstetrician also needs to be experienced and an extra member of the medical staff needs to be in the operating room. 

With files from CBC's Amina Zafar