St. Luke’s change lets moms hold newborns after C-sectionA new policy implemented at St. Luke’s in May is in response to scientific evidence about the importance of baby-to-mom contact during the first hour of life.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Lisa Fried had only one reservation about her upcoming cesarean section.
“The part I was dreading was having him and not being able to see him for a few hours after,” the Rice Lake Township woman said on Wednesday as she held week-old August Fried (pronounced “freed”) in her arms.
That had been Fried’s experience almost 13 years ago when she delivered her first child, Haley Henderson, also by C-section, also at St. Luke’s hospital.
It was hard missing out on Haley’s first hours of life, Fried recalled as the 12-year-old, about to enter seventh grade at Ordean East Middle School, sat at her side and admired her baby brother.
“I had to stay down there, get sewn up and go through recovery,” said Fried, 33, about Haley’s birth. “I didn’t get to really meet her until maybe two hours later.”
All of that has changed, Fried learned in a phone call from St. Luke’s the day before August was born. Barring medical complications, she would be with the baby virtually from the moment of delivery.
The change was the result of a new policy implemented at St. Luke’s in May in response to scientific evidence about the importance of baby-to-mom contact during the first hour of life. It’s known as the “golden hour.”
“The big thing is when babies come out in that first hour they’re more awake in that first hour than they will be, probably, for a couple of weeks,” said Dr. Heather Winesett, a pediatrician at St. Luke’s.
That’s because the baby is exposed to the same hormones during birth that his mom is, Winesett explained. So the baby is born with a heightened state of consciousness that lasts through about the first hour.
Implementing the change was a logistical challenge, said Dr. Aimee Van Straaten, an obstetrics-gynecology specialist at St. Luke’s, because the operating room and the birthing center are two floors apart. But it was worth the effort, she said.
“I think it makes a huge difference,” Van Straaten said. Now the “baby can stay with mom straight through the recovery.”
That’s at least as important in the case of C-section as it is after vaginal birth, she said.
“It’s a disconnected feeling to have a C-section,” Van Straaten said. “It almost feels like you’re not a part of the process.”
Fried said her feeling while having to wait to see Haley was one of anxiety.
“I didn’t get to be part of it,” she said.
It was a totally different feeling this time around, she said. She and her husband, Adam Fried, were able to be together with August throughout the process. All went smoothly, and August was born weighing 6 pound, 15½ ounces.
“It was great,” Lisa Fried said. “It was really like a lot of weight off my shoulders as far as when I got to see him and hold him. … That was the big difference, to have that moment to bond.”
Fried’s response is typical of moms who have had C-sections before and after the procedural change, Van Stratten said.
“I’ve had a few patients who have gone through it both ways,” she said. “It’s just night and day. They’re just super-excited.”