My Unforgettable Bonding Experience
Working at Texas Children’s Hospital, I’ve heard a lot about family-centered maternity care, which promotes mom and family bonding with a new baby from the earliest moments of life. I know how important it is, but I learned firsthand how truly powerful it could be during the birth of my second child. My first child’s birth was still a good experience, but looking back, I realize what it was lacking. Both my boys were delivered via C-Section. At my first son’s delivery, I could hear him in the room with me, but I couldn’t see what was happening with him. I couldn’t hold him or comfort his cries. And when my husband finally brought him to me swaddled up like a pink and blue striped burrito, it wasn’t until we were ready to go back to the recovery room. I imagined this was how my next child’s C-section would go.
My second child, Charlie, was born at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, and it had an entirely different feel. At my pre-op appointment, a PhD nursing student, Anitra Frederick, approached me about participating in a skin-to-skin research study she was conducting with C-section patients. The baby would be put on my chest, skin-to-skin, as soon as possible after delivery — something that typically does not happen in a C-section scenario. I happily agreed to do the study. I had no idea how much it would alter my experience — or my memories.
After my OB, Dr. Damla Dryden, held up my second son, Charlie, for me to see, he went straight to the bassinet where a camera fed a video stream to a TV right by my head. Unlike the birth of my first child, I could see him every moment. I could see how beautiful he was, how perfect — and of course, how demanding. He cried all through the nurse’s ministrations, but being able to watch him and see that he was perfectly fine was comforting. As soon as possible, the nurse brought him over to me. No swaddling this time, just a diaper.
The instant she put him on my bare chest under the gown, all the screaming and drama stopped. She pulled the blanket up over us, and Charlie nuzzled up to me, snug and content as a kitten. Having my child’s warm, soft presence in my arms completely transported me from the operating room. Not to mention, nothing boosts your confidence as a mother more than to stop your child’s crying instantly with your touch. It was powerful.
Charlie’s been a snuggly baby ever since. Now, I don’t know if research will confirm that our skin-to-skin contact was the reason, but I like to think that first touch impacted him just as strongly as it did me. His birth happened in December, so the memory is still very fresh. But even as time passes, I know that memory will continue to be perfectly etched in my mind — those minutes in the operating room as I first held Charlie to my chest, my husband next to me with one hand touching my head and the other on our newborn son. Even in the midst of all the bright lights, beeping, whirring machines and medical chatter of the staff, my family experienced this beautiful moment of quiet joy. It was family-centered maternity care at its finest.