When a woman has a caesarian, her baby is tucked into a warmer while surgeons stitch her back up. Mom and newborn may be separated for an hour or more during this tender time. They miss out on valuable skin-to-skin contact that boosts a baby’s immunity and helps regulate everything from blood sugar to temperature. Kaiser Permanente OB/GYN Alethea Bernstein says a pilot program at Kaiser Permanente San Diego can help women who get C-sections enjoy baby bonding right away, like those with vaginal births. Specially designed surgical drapes allow a woman to watch her child emerge and, soon after, feel its warm skin on her chest.
"It’s such an amazing moment when a baby enters the world," says Bernstein. "It’s this magic every time. By helping incorporate the family into this moment and allowing this direct skin-to-skin contact, it’s restoring the intimacy."
One out of three women in the U.S. have caesarians. Studies show skin contact immediately after birth makes sustained breastfeeding twice as likely. Bernstein encourages breastfeeding for at least six months to a year, when possible. She says breastfed babies show better brain development and lower rates for asthma, allergies, and childhood obesity. It’s good for Mom, too! Nursing reduces a woman’s lifetime risk of female cancers and helps restore a healthy pre-pregnancy weight. "There’s no replacement for breast milk," Bernstein says. "It’s kind of like gold."