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New Research Challenges The Position In Which New Babies Are Held

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Information regarding newborns and the way that they should be handled when they leave their mother’s womb has long been a subject of conversation throughout the medical world. It’s also a hot topic among expecting mothers who now completely customize their birthing plan to include things like whether or not there will be anesthetics involved, or even if noise will be allowed in the birthing room. Among this information there have been recent changes in the way that newborn babies are being held after birth.

The Introitus Method

Modern birthing techniques use information collected over thirty-five years ago to determine how a baby should be held as it’s born. This technique is called the introitus position, and it follows the theory that a new baby must be held level with the placenta so that blood then passes from the placenta and into the baby. Science Daily writes: “Delaying clamping of the umbilical cord until around two minutes after birth allows for blood to pass from the mother’s placenta to the baby, and has previously been shown to reduce the risk of iron deficiency in infancy.”

This level position, and the time that it takes to hold it, extends time before the cord is clamped which allows for a much greater transfusion. The transfer of blood from the placenta into the baby reduces iron deficiency, among other advantages. One problem that this position does hold, however, is that it also takes away much needed time between new mother and child.

Bonding and Nurturing

The time after a baby is born is crucial to form a bond between mother and child, and there’s no better way to do this then by laying the new baby on his or her mother’s abdomen or chest directly after birth. This method still allows for the delay of clamping and the transfusion of blood between placenta and child, but it also lets the mother become acquainted with the new baby, and better yet, it puts the infant right back where it wants to be, in the warm embrace of his or her mother. As a baby is removed from the womb, they’re facing cold air, bright lights, loud voices, and strange smells, which is why giving the baby right to his or her mother provides so much comfort; it’s familiar. Robert Preidt of Web MD reports: “Because of the potential of enhanced bonding between mother and baby, increased success of breast-feeding and the compliance with the procedure, holding the infant by the mother immediately after birth should be strongly recommended.”

This position also gives the woman better access to nursing the baby right away, which is another bonding exercise, but is also important for the baby’s nutrition, as a newborn should eat every two hours.

Statistical Differences Between Positions

Despite both of these positions having pros and cons, it can still be difficult for medical personnel to determine which is best scientifically, which is why testing has been done to prove the better way of handling the newborn. A study in Argentina took information from 197 babies who were held in the introitus method, with delayed cord clamping, and 194 babies who were laid directly onto his or her mother, with the same delay in clamping. Between birth and shortly after being clamped the babies were weighed, and surprisingly, there wasn’t much of a difference between the two methods. Statistically, both babies seemed the same as far as blood transferred from the placenta to the child. Medical News Today reports: “This means that placing the baby on the mother is no less effective than the introitus position, but it does have the advantage of being less awkward, and allows immediate contact between the mother and her child.”

Another issue that can be avoided with the practice of placing an infant directly on his or her mother is that there’s at least a two minute delay in cord clamping because doctor, baby, and mother are comfortable in this arrangement. With the introitus technique you have a baby being held awkwardly by a doctor who wants to put him or her down, a mother waiting impatiently to hold her new bundle of joy, and a baby who’s not going to be happy at the prospect of being held anywhere but in the arms of his or her mother.

How This Change Is Taking Root

Although this study was performed in Argentina, this is a topic that has been undergoing serious consideration for quite some time in many countries including the United States and Canada. In fact, in many hospitals across North America, especially those that cater specifically to child birth and women and child care, the newer method of laying the baby against the mother has taken root and become the custom unless otherwise informed by the mother. This gives both parent and baby a chance to bond before the cord is clamped, as well as benefiting through blood transfer in lowering iron deficiency in newborns.

Parents interested in either option should discuss the ideas with your physician and see what he or she has to say about each technique and its merits. For some parents the way that a baby is held upon birth isn’t even considered, while others think about everything from where he or she will first be held to whether or not there will be music playing they he or she arrives in the world.