Babies born by C-section should have skin-to-skin contact with their fathers while mums recover as it helps to boost heart rate, study finds
- Swedish experts studied 95 Caesarean-delivered babies in a Chilean hospital
- The babies were grouped based on the contact they had with their fathers
- One group had skin-to-skin contact, while one got cradled in their dad’s arms
- In the final group, the babies were placed in cots while their fathers sat nearby
- Newborns who had skin-to-skin contact had higher and more stable heart rates
- The babies in this group were also found to be more wakeful in the short term
While mothers recover from Caesarean birth, babies should have skin-to-skin contact with their fathers as it helps to boots their heart rate, a study recommended.
Swedish experts found that a surgically delivered newborn will have a higher and more stable heart rate if lain on their dad’s bare chest than if held or placed in a cot.
Previous research has established that there are various physical and psychological benefits of skin-to-skin contact between parents and newborn children.
However, in many countries, babies born by C-section are placed in neonatal units while their mothers recover — especially after the use of general anaesthetic.
In the UK, around one-in-five births are now performed by Caesarean section, in which the child is delivered through an incision in the stomach and womb.
While mothers recover from Caesarean birth, babies should have skin-to-skin contact with their fathers (pictured) as it helps to boots their heart rate, a study recommended
‘Separating infants and their parents after a Caesarean section is still routine care worldwide,’ said paper author and reproductive health expert Kyllike Christensson of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute.
‘The results show that newborn infants can be safely and adequately cared for by their fathers if their mothers cannot take care of them straight after birth.’
In their study, Professor Christensson and colleagues examined 95 babies born by C-section at a public hospital in Chile during the years 2009–2012.
The team divided each baby into one of three groups — monitoring them every quarter-hour, starting 45 minutes after birth and continuing for a total of one and a quarter hours.
Those babies in the first group were placed on their sides in a cot, while their dads sat nearby in a chair, while those in the second were cradled in their father’s arms.
Newborns in the final group, meanwhile, were lain face-down on their father’s chest — allowing them skin-to-skin contact — before being covered with a blanket.
The team found that the heart rates of the newborns were significantly higher and more stable over time among those in the group that experienced skin-to-skin contact with their fathers.
‘The infants in the skin-to-skin contact group had a higher mean heart rate at 45 minutes after Caesarean delivery than the other two groups,’ said paper author Ana Ayala, also of the Karolinska Institute.
‘This higher alert state lasted until approximately 90 minutes.’
‘No significant differences were noted between the groups when it came to ear temperature or peripheral oxygen saturation.’
A so-called Neonatal Behavioural Assessment was also carried out to measure the babies’ physiological parameters and wakefulness.
This analysis revealed that skin-to-skin contact also improved the babies’ wakefulness in the short term, the researchers said.
In the UK, around one-in-five births are now performed by Caesarean section, in which the child is delivered through an incision in the stomach and womb, as pictured
‘The skin-to-skin group showed some advantages over the cot and fathers’ arms groups when it came to establishing stable physiological parameters and wakefulness,’ said Professor Christensson.
‘This approach should be supported during mother-infant separation.’
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Acta Paediatrica.
MEDICAL REASONS FOR CAESAREAN SECTIONS
There are various reasons why a doctor may recommend that you have a caesarean section instead of giving birth vaginally.
If you had complications in a previous pregnancy or birth, or in your current pregnancy, you may be advised to have what’s called a planned or elective caesarean, or a planned repeat caesarean.
If you were planning to give birth vaginally, but complications during labour or birth mean that you’re advised to give birth by caesarean, you’ll have what’s called an unplanned or emergency caesarean.
Here are some reasons why doctors may opt for a planned or emergency caesarean, rather than a vaginal birth:
- You’ve already had at least one caesarean section.
- Your baby is in a bottom-down, or breech, position.
- Your baby is in a sideways (transverse) position, or keeps changing its position (unstable lie).
- You have a low-lying placenta (placenta praevia).
- You have a medical condition, such as heart disease or diabetes.
- You have lost a baby in the past, either before or during labour.
- You’re expecting twins or more.
- Your baby is not growing as well as it should be in your womb.
- You have severe pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, making it dangerous to delay the birth.