MOTHERS in East Lancashire can now benefit from holding their baby skin-to-skin immediately following a caesarean birth.

Maternity staff at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust have introduced a new initiative where the 1,600 mothers who give birth each year via caesarean section at the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre can now hold their baby skin-to-skin immediately after birth.

‘Immediate skin-to-skin care’ is a natural process that involves placing a newborn on the mother’s chest directly after the birth.

“The routine process for caesarean section births was a screen placed in front of the mother which meant she could see her baby being born,” said consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Liz Martindale.

She said: “For skin-to-skin care after a caesarean birth, the mother and her child must stay together.

“We received many requests from couples wishing for a ‘gentler’, more personal caesarean birth experience, and hospital staff have worked together to provide immediate and sustained skin-to-skin contact.”

Mum-of-three Liz Howey, from Bacup, recently gave birth to her son Rufus at the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre and has experienced immediate skin-to-skin for herself.

Mrs Howey said: “The important thing about Rufus’ birth was feeling like I was part of the whole birthing process.

“My daughter Ruby was born by caesarean section and, although I tried to plan and achieve the perfect birth, I remember the screen creating such a barrier and the surgeon feeling so far away.

“Thankfully, Rufus’ skin-to-skin caesarean at Burnley General Teaching Hospital was a very positive experience, and I want to thank all the staff for helping me to achieve my ‘perfect’ birth.

“He’s now three weeks old and we are both doing well.”

The health trust says the new initiative offers many benefits including an increase in breastfeeding initiation, decreased time to the first breastfeed, increased bonding and stronger maternal satisfaction.

Mrs Martindale added: “Probably the biggest barrier to skin-to-skin care after a caesarean is the culture of the operating theatre,”

“From the start, we brought everyone to the table – theatre staff, obstetricians, anaesthetists and midwives - so that the entire team took ownership of the changes.

“After understanding and seeing the benefits of this family-friendly birth, staff were more than ready to support the change.”