A midwife helps a mother hold her newborn.

World Prematurity Day: Midwifery Helps New Parents Have an Unforgettable Moment

Sometimes, birth doesn’t go the way a family expects. 

For some parents, it means a rush to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital so their baby can have life-giving oxygen. For others, it’s pivoting to a cesarian section to keep everyone safe. 

With the Rabosa family, Elias’ birth felt a bit like a blur… 

A baby in a hospital isolette, surrounded by life-saving equipment
We went from a complication-free pregnancy to delivery troubles that prevented him from getting enough blood and oxygen to his brain, causing permanent damage. He was immediately whisked into the Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for life-saving care.”

After ten days of complex care, including special IV’s medication, isolettes and more, Elias’ core nurse Laura helped make a life-changing moment happen…  

“I’ll never forget that morning. Day ten. Laura pulled up the Kangaroo (skin-to-skin care) chair and told me we were going to make it happen – I was going to hold my son. She took so much extra care to make sure I could safely have that crucial moment with Elias. It’s a day I’ll never forget.”

A mother in a mask tending to her NICU newbornFor premature babies, cesarian section births, and more, skin-to-skin benefits the whole family. Evidence-based benefits for babies and parents include: 

  • Decreasing the rate of NICU transfers.  
  • Regulating the baby’s heart rate and breathing, helping them to better adapt to life outside the womb.  
  • Reducing cortisol (stress) levels for the birthing parent and baby, particularly following painful procedures.  
  • Stimulating digestion and an interest in breast and chest feeding. 
  • Enhancing body temperature and blood sugar.  
  • Decreasing likelihood of postpartum depression and anxiety.  

Knowing all of the benefits of skin-to-skin, the more than 50 registered midwives who work with Children’s Hospital are working to ensure more families like Elias’ have quicker, easier access to skin-to-skin care. 

For the past year, our Midwives have been enabling skin-to-skin by manually holding babies to parents’ chests after a cesarian to ensure birthing parents can experience the benefits of this close contact, even when they can’t use their arms reliably. But this meant that only cesarian births with Midwives involved could facilitate this skin-to-skin contact.  

Wanting more opportunities for families to benefit, the Midwifery Department began troubleshooting and investing in an incredible solution; the JoeyBand. As of Oct 16, 2023, Midwifery is rolling out JoeyBands and helping parents experience skin-to-skin after a cesarian without manual assistance!  

“On our very first day of the JoeyBand rollout, I was already seeing so many positive experiences. A Mom I helped on that first day cried when she was able to hold her fourth child in skin-to-skin right away.” Lauren Columbus, Academic Practice Lead, Department of Midwifery at London Health Sciences Centre. 

The Midwifery Department’s ability to roll out this project is thanks to the leadership and capacity granted to them by Children’s Health Foundation donors. Your generosity is helping empower families to experience the benefits of skin-to-skin with Midwifery. 

And this is just the beginning! 

As Midwifery continues to dive into skin-to-skin research and educate healthcare professionals across Children’s about the benefits of skin-to-skin, our donors’ generosity can continue improving the birthing experience for all Children’s Hospital families.  

Thank you for helping transform care for newborns and their families.  

Lastly, a big thank you to Registered Midwives, Lauren Columbus, Academic Practice Lead, Department of Midwifery and Meagan Furnivall, Research Lead for sharing this exciting improvement in patient care!

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