Skin to skin

My name is Jenny Clarke and I am a clinical midwife at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

I have a true passion that babies are not separated from their mothers and I will do anything to encourage staff to promote this vital part of birth.

Skin to Skin is when mums hold their naked baby close to them, skin to skin, as soon as possible after birth. The midwife dries the baby, places them onto the mum’s naked chest, then covers both the mum and baby with a clean towel or blanket to keep them both warm.

Skin to skin is a great way for mums to get to know their baby in a relaxed and calm atmosphere, it also helps the baby to adjust to life outside. It helps calm the baby and helps to steady their breathing and heart rate; it helps to keep the baby warm; and it helps to start bonding with the baby.

Partners can have skin to skin contact with the baby too. Many fathers really enjoy this as they feel they become very close to their newborn baby.

I regularly sneaked through to the operating theatre to write on a white board: ‘Skin to skin – don’t forget’. Each day and each time I returned to work the writing had been erased, so one day I decided to write on the wall above the white board in 15 inch high letters: “IS THE BABY IN SKIN TO SKIN CONTACT?” I also drew a heart at either side of the writing and the deed was done. I told each woman I met who was due to have a caesarean section ‘don’t worry about asking for skin to skin contact as it’s written on the wall directly opposite you.

My head of Midwifery was extremely positive and supportive, and even though the writing is now removed, all staff at Blackpool now discuss skin to skin in theatre, so my deed has made skin to skin part of our conversations.

On twitter I am known as #BanksyMidwife and I have helped lots of staff to consider skin to skin contact. I have also given advice to several midwives, student midwives, peer feeding support workers and obstetricians. I have noticed that students are keen to make skin to skin happen which fills my heart with joy.

76 - who boardOne day I dream that all Women’s Unit theatres will have ‘skin to skin?’ on their walls, as well as pictures and happy things that make the setting less clinical and more birth orientated

As a result of my actions, Blackpool teaching hospitals have now got WHO theatre checklist boards that have “skin to skin?” printed on them. In fact, we are the first trust in the UK to have this and I am helping other Trusts (via twitter) to promote and facilitate skin to skin in the theatre setting.

I also have a blog where I talk about midwifery and skin to skin:

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