There are now a multitude of studies that support the benefits of skin to skin contact immediately after birth.
Babies are happier, their temperatures are more stable and normal, and their heart and breathing rates are more stable. Not only that, skin to skin contact immediately allows the baby to be colonized by the same bacteria as the mother.
As for mothers, the release of oxytocin from immediate breastfeeding facilitates control of bleeding in immediate postpartum period.
While most vaginal births are following this trend, it doesn’t seem the case for those undergoing a cesarean section.
In the current setting, C-section moms are unlikely to immediately meet their baby once delivered with fear of breaking the sterility of the surgical area.
Traditionally, the standard medical drape curtains off the operating field and blocks the mom’s view of the baby.
After delivery, the baby is then cleaned and often put in a warmer before being handed to the mom.
To answer that problem, registered nurses Kimberly Jarrelle, Deborah Burbic, and Jess Niccoli developed a novel surgical drape with a sealable portal allowing doctor to pass the baby to the mother.
With their more than 50 years of collective experience in labor and delivery, the three nurses from Richmond, Virginia call their invention the Skin to Skin C-Section drape.
“When mom gets to hold that baby for the first time on her chest, it is just unbelievable, that experience,” Burbic said. “We were going, ‘How could we make this happen in the operating room?’ ”
With the Skin to Skin C-Section Drape, the flap opens like a window to allow the doctor to pass the baby through. The flap is then closed, maintaining the sterility of the surgical site as the doctors change gloves and sutures the uterus and incision.
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Surgical drapes are rated by thickness, fluid resistance and other factors. On a scale of one to four, their drape is four, the strongest on all the areas that are flat. “The part that goes up between the anesthesia has a rating of three, because you don’t need that much heavy barrier,” said Niccoli.
The inventors of the drape call their company Clever Medical, and have introduced the product at the national conference of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses where they made contact with three hospitals that agree to test the drape.