Decreasing Mother-Infant Separation While Managing Newborn Hypothermia
Over the centuries, the attachment between a mother and her newborn infant has been considered a natural process. However, the method by which a mother and her baby develop a close relationship is not clearly understood. It appears that shortly after birth the baby, as well as the mother, is in a state of readiness that allows them to interact with each other enhancing the bonding process. Hospital procedures can interfere with this very important time.
Newborns are at increased risk of thermoregulatory problems and are far more sensitive to changes in the external environment. Increased cellular metabolism occurs as the infant tries to maintain body temperature, leading to increased oxygen consumption, placing the infant at risk for hypoxia, cardiorespiratory complications, and acidosis. Such infants are also at risk for hypoglycemia because of the increased consumption of glucose for heat production (Hackman, 2001). Temperatures
in the delivery rooms and operating rooms, examination procedures, and infant baths can all contribute to hypothermia in the normal newborn.
While treating hypothermia in the newborn is essential to avoiding serious and potentially life-threatening complications, it is a frequent reason for the infant’s removal from their mother’s arms and placed in an infant warmer or from allowing nurses to bring the infant to the mother in the post-recovery area after a cesarean.
The nurses of the Center for Women and Children wanted to find a way to minimize mother-baby separation during times of hypothermia. Several studies have supported the use of skin to skin contact between the mother and baby as a means to prevent and treat hypothermia (Bosque et al., 1995; Ludington-Hoe et al., 1994; McCall et al., 2005; Karlsson, 1996; Christensson, Bhat, Amadi, Eriksson, and Hojer 1998) . Additionally, the use of a mobile infant warmer rolled up to the mother’s bed/chair and placed over the baby as it lies in her arms can help reduce the time needed to warm the baby.
A grant request was presented to the Catawba Medical Foundation for two Fisher & Paykel mobile infant warmers. The grant was immediately approved by the Foundation’s board members and in early 2009 CVMC’s Center for Women & Children had these very beneficial products on the units. Both warmers are frequently utilized by The Birthing Center, the Normal and Special Care Nurseries and the Pediatrics Unit. We can now effectively reduce mother-infant separation and quickly rejoin mother and baby in the post-surgical units after a cesarean section.
We are extremely grateful for the interest and efforts of the Catawba Foundation board and its members for the generosity displayed towards the very special patients of CVMC’s Center for Women & Children.