Latch-On

Lactation Counseling for every woman

Skin to Skin Care in the NICU

One of my most rewarding perks as an RN, IBCLC at my hospital is visiting moms and their new babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). These babies are so precious, and often parents feel very helpless when they stand there looking into the incubator, anxiously counting the minutes until they can hold their babies again. There is nothing more amazing than seeing the sigh of relief from both a mom and her baby when they touch each other for the first time Skin to Skin (STS). These first weeks in the NICU can really make or break a successful breastfeeding relationship. Pumping every 2-3 hours is imperative. When I am asked how to help a mother  increase her supply, I tell her to pump while holding her baby skin to skin.image (5)

This very simple act helps these two puzzle pieces fit together: Mom and Baby become one. From the moment the baby is placed on the mother’s body, biological messages are sent. For baby, his heart rate, respirations, and blood sugar begin to stabilize. The cortisol (stress hormone) in his blood is decreasing and now he is enveloped in a calm state; baby is relaxing into a quiet and deep sleep. This “quiet sleep” will allow him to grow and gain weight faster than his peers who are not practicing Skin to Skin Care. By hearing mom’s heartbeat, feeling her chest rise and fall with each breath, and experiencing the warmth of his mother’s chest, he is becoming regulated by the natural physiology of her body.

When the baby is ready to breastfeed, Skin to Skin Care aids in a correct and comfortable latch, this is such an important milestone for both parties. The protective properties from mom’s milk boost his immune system and Mom begins to learn his early hunger cues. Babies who are not receiving STS care are surviving, but those who practice it daily are thriving and often times are released earlier from the NICU. image

The most amazing aspect of Skin to Skin is that it is reciprocal. What benefits baby, benefits Mom, and this is especially true for mothers of NICU babies. This time spent together decreases Mom’s risk for postpartum depression, builds her confidence in her new role, and can increase her milk supply by boosting her oxytocin, and relaxing her milk ejection reflex. This simple act floods her body with calming endorphins and helps her to fall in love with her sweet little gift.

HudLo_Export_01-Having witnessed over and over again the amazing benefits of Skin to Skin Care, I developed Hudlo, a Skin to Skin clothing company.The success stories of mothers and babies thriving in my practice only reinforced my belief that all mothers and babes should be endowed with the benefits of Skin to Skin Care. This is why my husband and I have created garments to be worn in the OR, NICU, and up to 6 months. Hudlo is named after my two children Hudson and Harlow who were born via emergency cesareans, where immediate Skin to Skin was not an option for us.

image (1)We designed a multi purpose Skin to Skin Shirt to practice horizontal Kangaroo Care in the operating room to assist with Skin to skin during a cesarean and to be worn in the halter style for vertical Kangaroo Care in the NICU We also designed a Skin to Skin Baby Carrier to hold infants 5-20 pounds during the “4th trimester” postpartum.

Please help bring Skin to Skin to every baby and every birth by supporting Hudlo at our Indiegogo site . Much love to Mom’s everywhere and I wish you success in all of your birth and breastfeeding stories! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hudlo-skin-to-skin-clothing-every-baby-every-birthHudlo-Logo-Indiegogo

Skin to Skin Contact for Every Baby and Every Birth.

Harlow 2012 026 8 years ago I had my first emergent Cesarean birth. My delivery ended with a 3 hour separation from my baby. I awoke in the recovery room alone, no nurse, no husband, and no baby.  I was pretty naïve as to the rights and options I had as a mother with my first child, but 6 years later I knew exactly how my birth story would go. With my second baby I was practicing hypnobirthing and striving for a VBAC. I made it to 7 centimeters and started bleeding. My 2 midwives confirmed my trial of labor was over and I was wheeled back to the operating room. Once again, the curtain went up, and after delivery my baby was swaddled and handed off to my husband.  He then held her up against my cheek. I lay there longing to hold her in my arms, but this time our outcome was different, we were never completely separated and I was able to hold her within 30 minutes. I was awake and alert; a much better experience than the 3 hours I lost with my son.Family-057

I believe a woman’s body is made to have a natural, un-medicated birth; however, this is not always achievable. I know there are times, due to medical circumstance, history of a previous cesarean, or even a mother’s right to choose, that a surgical birth can happen. These moms (myself included) need a voice. Our standard of practice in the hospital has to change. Mothers and babies cannot be separated after delivery unless it is medically indicated. Even then, these interventions should be few and far between.  We need to focus on the fact that Skin to Skin contact is the easy solution for all parties involved. This practice is best for moms, babies, and medical staff. Skin to Skin stabilizes baby’s vital signs, protects her immune system, and increases mom’s milk production. Most importantly, baby feels safe and secure in a parent’s arms, increasing oxytocin levels (the love hormone) and enabling families to bond right away. But this well researched practice is not happening for every birth, especially for moms with Cesarean births, and this is not acceptable.

 I have come to peace with my birth stories but I know it can still be better and different for other moms. I have met too many mothers who wanted a natural or vaginal birth, yet this was not the outcome. Instead of feeling that a piece of their birth story is missing, they can feel whole and connected  by the cascade of hormones and bonding that ensues when baby is placed upon their body during the surgery. This is the safest place for baby to be. This is their new home.OR STS pic

I am an advocate for all mothers. My mission, and my dream, is to encourage every mom to trust her instincts, listen to her body, embrace her power and own her birth. I want moms, regardless of method of birth, to be treated equally and to know they have rights, no matter how their baby is delivered.

I am now part of a team who implements Skin to Skin care in the Operating Room at Lutheran Medical Center outside of Denver, Colorado. My hospital helps moms and babies to experience Family Centered Cesareans and strives to make the operating room a more natural and loving environment. In conjunction with this, my husband and I have created a line of Skin to Skin clothing to assist in these processes. The name of our company is Hudlo, after our two amazing kids: Hudson and Harlow. We have created a Skin to Skin Shirt which can be worn in the operating room during and immediately after Cesarean surgery to facilitate Skin to Skin. We have also designed the first true Skin to Skin baby carrier for infants that allows mom and baby to experience hands free Skin to Skin all day long.Hudlo-Logo-Indiegogo

Please help to bring Skin to Skin to every baby and every birth by supporting Hudlo in our mission. To donate to our crowd-funding campaign and bring our Skin to Skin clothing to more families, please visit: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hudlo-skin-to-skin-baby-carrier.

I was scared too…

After deciding my bedroom nightstand was long over due for a thorough cleaning,  I rediscovered the journal I had during my first pregnancy with Hud, back in 2005.  Upon reading a few of the entries, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride swelling up inside. “Wow!”,  I thought,  look how far I have come. From being a very scared pregnant mother,  to surviving an extremely  difficult breastfeeding beginning, then returning to school and becoming a RN, the birth of my 2nd child, receiving my  IBCLC  and now starting my own business. What an incredible journey these last 8 years have been. And to think it all began here, with my first journal entry.

July 2005 “I am now more scared than I have ever been. I am going to be someone’s mother. I am not ready for this, I am afraid.”

Throughout the pregnancy I made several entries about being scared, worried, and anxious about what was to come with the birth of my baby. The thought of doing the wrong thing consumed me. I was so afraid. But on those pages I also found several entries about how amazing this little miracle was, how I loved to feel him kick inside me and how I was so excited to meet him. But over all,  I was frightened out of my mind. But little did I know, I was already becoming a mother. And let me tell you Mamas, you never really think you’re ready. But I promise, you are.

My little man was born 3 weeks early and I was struggling as a new breastfeeding Mom. My fears were coming true and over the next few years I did not  journal or even take  time for myself. I was as they say “consumed with all things baby”. The years passed quickly and the next entry I wrote was in 2008, when Hud was 2 and a half years old. This is what it said,

May 2008 “Here I am, a Mother. How time flies! I am no longer always worried or scared. He is my light, my life, my love. The happiness his smile brings to me can not be described with words. He is my peace and I am a better person because I am his Mother.”

Upon reading that last entry, I cried. Big, fat, crocodile tears. Not because I was sad but because I had doubted my ability to care for my own child. I had convinced myself, I didn’t know how to be a Mother, I thought I would fail. But that was the furthest thing from the truth. Over time I began to trust myself, I listened to my instincts , I stopped questioning everything, and I did what felt right to me. No matter if my Mom, or Mother in Law or Sister or friend were doing something different and this  idea changed everything for me. I did not have time to be scared anymore. I was free to live this  wonderful adventure and I did.Feeding-001

So step back from your current situation and look inside your self Mama. You have the answers, you know when something is wrong, or a little off  with your baby. You know how to Mother. Trust yourself and when you need help or have questions ask them, but then do what you feel works for you. Remember, you are the very best Mother for this baby. You, no one else. Just you.

For all the Mama’s….

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Hud & Lolo

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