From mum to midwife: how skin-to-skin bonding is creating connections for Westmead mums

Yaqing Xue holding her newborn son skin-to-skin in recovery. He was born by Caesarean section at Westmead Hospital, Wednesday, 14 April 2021.

A little over a year ago, after Kim Kaddour gave birth to her daughter via elective Caesarean section at Westmead Hospital, she held her to her chest, skin-to-skin.

Now, Kim is a midwife at the Westmead Hospital Women’s & Newborn Care Unit – teaching other new mums the very same technique that helped her bond with own child.

Westmead Hospital Women’s & Newborn Health “Skin-to-Skin” program has gained traction since its inception in 2015 with 4000 mothers and babies connecting via the technique.

Most mothers have their babies placed on them immediately after birth whereas women who undergo a Caesarean section wait up to three hours before they can touch or feel their babies.

Instead of the baby being swaddled, the skin-to-skin technique means the naked baby is placed on the mother’s chest to improve bonding and help with the first breastfeed.

Mother-of-two Yaqing Xue performed skin-to-skin with her baby boy after her Caesarean section on Wednesday, 14 April 2021.

“I was feeling his touch when I hugged him, then he opened his eyes and looked at me. It was amazing; he’s so cute,” Yaqing said.

“I’ve done skin-to-skin with both my babies and it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to touch the baby after surgery.

“Laying your baby on your skin helps with breastfeeding and is very warming.”

Midwife Kim Kaddour helps Yaqing Xue with her newborn son.

The technique can also reduce stress or pain levels for mothers, keep babies warmer and more settled, plus regulate breathing and heart rates – something midwife Kim Kaddour knows firsthand.

“It felt like a normal experience being able to hold my baby after an emergency caesarean section birth of my daughter,” Kim said.

“She was more attached to me and breastfeeding was much easier.

Westmead Hospital Midwife Kim Kaddour with her daughter Karima.

“It’s simply natural for mums and babies to want to be together, even if the baby was not born vaginally.

“It’s also important for mothers and babies to have skin contact to help form bacteria which is essential in creating the foundation of the baby’s immune system.

“With our program, mums, babies, and dads all stay together from the moment of birth until they move to the maternity ward – creating a better patient experience.”

Midwife Kim Kaddour did skin-to-skin with the birth of her second child after an emergency Caesarean

Fathers can also be encouraged to do the skin-to-skin technique if the mother is too unwell or unable to nurture a newborn loved one.

The program is offered to all expecting mums at Westmead Hospital and is discussed with them during their antenatal appointments.

If you have any questions regarding the skin-to-skin technique, please contact your treating doctor or midwife. For more information about the Westmead Hospital Women’s & Newborn Health services, click here.