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A Simple Touch

Twenty-seven miles from their home in Grandin, N.D., to Fargo… Sean Jalbert had driven this stretch of road hundreds of times. But on this cold winter night he carried the future.

Speeding south on I-29, Sean kept a close eye on his wife, Anita. More than anything he wanted to get her to Sanford Family Birth Center safely and in time for the birth of their second child. Her water had already broken.

Anita took a deep breath and tried to stay calm. Her mind kept going back to when their first baby was born. That, too, was a middle-of-the-night trip, then came hour after hour of difficult labor. Tess, now a healthy 3-year-old, was worth every hand-gripping contraction.

Would the second birth experience match the first?

Beyond the expected

“So different!” says Anita. “The labor was shorter and the delivery was easier, but the most wonderful part was the bonding time. It was unforgettable -- and unexpected.”

Within seconds after birth, a healthy, screaming baby Emme was placed on Anita’s chest -- skin-to-skin. “She was alert and looked up at me with wide open eyes. Just amazing!” says Anita. “I kept thinking they’d take her away for measurements, but she stayed right there with us. A couple minutes later she started nursing all on her own.”

On Jan. 10, 2011, the Jalberts became part of a growing number of families who experience the difference when skin-to-skin contact happens immediately after birth. Sanford Women’s supports this key step for all healthy births. Research has shown several health benefits to babies, including better:

    * Temperature regulation
    * Breathing
    * Blood pressure
    * Regulation of blood sugars

Ease in breastfeeding

Fran Mosey, certified lactation consultant at Sanford, has seen how immediate skin-to-skin contact contributes to breastfeeding success.

“The babies are awake and aware. This is exactly when they’ll start breastfeeding on their own,” she says. “They naturally latch on to the breast. Studies have shown that when this happens, women are more likely to breastfeed exclusively and for a longer period of time.”

Today approximately 75 percent of women who give birth at Sanford Women’s choose breastfeeding -- up significantly from years ago. Breast pumps and improved places for expressing milk have helped, but so has abundant information on the benefits of breastfeeding.

“Moms want to do what’s best for their babies,” says Fran. “We know breastfeeding provides ideal nutrition and protects babies’ health.”

It can be a challenge, especially for the 80 percent of women who return to work. Anita, a childcare center director in Fargo, breastfed Tess for a year and hopes to do the same with Emme. “It’s a huge commitment, but well worth the benefits,” she says.

A fabulous start

Sanford Women’s supports breastfeeding through educational classes, one-on-one visits with lactation experts in the hospital and after, and readily available answers to questions.

The day after Emme was born, Fran stopped by for a visit in Anita’s hospital room. “She was a godsend,” says Anita. “So reassuring and she never made me feel like I asked ridiculous questions.”

But perhaps for Anita, the greatest reassurance came from Emme just seconds after birth.

“The skin-to-skin contact really changed my outlook,” she says. “Having a new baby is a scary time, even when it’s your second. Will I be good at this? Will I know what to do? It brought such peace to feel Emme and look into her eyes. I realized I can do this.”

And today? Emme smiles when she meets someone new. She giggles when her mom or dad make funny faces. She sleeps through the night. And except for when she’s hungry or needs changing, she rarely fusses.

The beauty of a simple touch.

Posted Date: June 2011