I’m sharing below an e-mail conversation with a Midwife/Lactation Consultant from Israel. Gloria
From: Leslie Wolff, Israel
Subject: Lactation Consultants in the labor & delivery room
I was a midwife in the labor/delivery ward for 14 years – and am now a IBCLC for the past four years – working as the coordinator of breastfeeding at my hospital, which means getting to Labor and Delivery also…mostly when the midwives ask me if I can give some help…
I have a few of my own beliefs about breastfeeding immediately after delivery. I feel that skin to skin after birth for the first two hours is SO important -more important than making a big effort to get that baby to breastfeed.. MAINLY because I realize that it helps the diad – mother and baby – to recover from the birth experience, is a Win Win situation that requires no effort , there is nothing to “succeed” in – it is just a “being” situation that is beautiful for Mom and baby. And if the baby goes for the breast – great..and if not, or the breast is offered and the baby doesn’t GO FOR IT – that’s fine. .I also truly don’t like to give “instructions/ advice” during those first two special hours..I know that proper latching is important, but that mother JUST GAVE BIRTH – I could never see myself “instructing her” – maybe a little helping the baby get the nipple farther into the mouth , maybe a word here or there – there is plenty of time to help her when she is in Postpartum ward – those first two hours after birth seems like a special, quiet , almost holistic time ( having nothing to do with the fact that the baby had a natural or very intervened-with ( is there such a word?) birth, maybe even a C-Section…..I know that babies are “supposed to” “immediately” start breastfeeding beautifully – but I see so many mothers and babies that are SO content just lying there Skin to Skin, relaxing, bonding in their own special way. In the past, before I discovered the beauty of Skin to Skin ,I remember many frustrated Moms and babies doing their best to breastfeed, because Mom and Dad both knew that was the best thing to do immediately after birth…)
I’m glad that you brought the subject up – because I too am interested in how others ” do it” during that first period after birth labor/delivery ward, and am interested in any comments about what I wrote..
Close to the Heart
Leslie Wolff, Israel
Leslie, may I have permission to put your wise words on my blog. I attend only homebirths and have the same attitude. It’s the skin to skin contact and little (or big) noises of the baby that cause the uterus to contract powerfully post partum. It is a sacred time right after birth that can never be recaptured. When the mother and baby have warmth and privacy they will “discover” each other and fall madly in love. This is the best child protection method both in the short and long term. We are mammals. We must sniff, lick, coo, cuddle, look at and hear our young. In turn, the baby does many “pre-nursing behaviours”-climbing, licking, looking, hearing, sniffing. . . who knows what they are doing because it’s dark and private, remember? How do I know this? Because I had it with my own 2 homebirths. Just like sex, it has to be experienced to be believed. My mission in life is to learn how to take my interference away from the mammatoto. Gloria Lemay, Vancouver, BC
Dear Gloria – it is my honor and pleasure to be quoted on your blog!
Tomorrow I am giving a power point presentation – two lectures – one on Skin to Skin for the Healthy Newborn and the second : Kangaroo Care for the Premature – for nurses and midwives and a few doctors at a breastfeeding course in Tel Aviv ( an acknowledged course for IBCLC). For the first time I am going to take a firm stand on my thoughts about those first two hours , with the support of the feedback I got from you and others.
Linda Smith wrote me, when I mentioned to her that the words of the 4th Step of Baby Friendly put more emphasis on breastfeeding than skin to skin, and I think it should be the opposite):
From Linda Smith: “Take a look at how Step 4 is currently interpreted:
Step 4: Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth.
Place all babies in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately following birth for at least an hour. Encourage mothers who have chosen to breastfeed to recognize when their babies are ready to breastfeed, offering help if needed. Offer mothers who are HIV positive and have chosen not to breastfeed help in keeping their infants from accessing their breasts.
It’s very clear from this interpretation that getting babies ONTO their mother’s bodies after birth is the point. What they DO once they’re touching mom’s body is up to the baby and mother. Some will latch quickly; others will take longer. Letting the mother & baby follow their instincts is key.
Our role is to STOP INTERFERING.
This is WAY more than your beliefs – the science on this is very clear!
Linda J. Smith, BSE, FACCE, IBCLC, FILCA Bright Future Lactation Resource Centre, Ltd.”
So these past letters – yours and others – have come for me just at a perfect time – and I appreciate your feedback very much…
CLOSE TO THE HEART and MIDWIFERY IN PEACE