After an infant died at the Fiona Stanley Hospital in Murdoch, Western Australia, doctors issued a warning against skin-to-skin contact between mothers and newborns.
Over the past 18 months, various Perth hospitals have had their share of neonatal deaths where mothers still doped up with drugs and exhausted by labor had fallen asleep and accidentally lain or rolled onto their newborns.
“This has been happening a bit more in recent times. It’s a really concerning development,” said Dr. Michael Gannon. “There is this new obsession amongst mothers and midwives with immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth.”
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He believes that this fad stemmed from “taking whatever possible measures that might lead to small increases in the number of women who breastfeed,” reports said.
“I think that gets over-interpreted. Babies, instead of being in a safe environment like a warming crib, are being left on their mother’s chest,” he added.
This problem is also attributed to the midwife-to-patient ratios in maternity wards; often these wards are understaffed.
“It’s absolutely catastrophic when a beautiful healthy normally-grown baby succumbs to anything in hospital when it’s potentially preventable,” Dr. Gannon said.
When asked if the newborn’s death happened as a result of the mother falling asleep with her baby, Fiona Stanley Hospital only said that the coroner was investigating.
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Following the death of the infant, however, more staff were assigned on the hospital’s maternity ward.
“We know that the first hour after birth is vitally important for bonding and attachment,” said Dr. Sara Bayes, deputy chair of the Australian College of Midwives’ WA branch.
But she advices mothers to be cautious of it.
She added: “The only time we would pro-actively encourage skin-to-skin contact is the first hour or two when most would be under close supervision. Certainly we do not advise ongoing co-sleeping, but rooming-in.
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