Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mother's Skin-to-Skin Goodbye Saves 20oz Baby

By Danelle Frisbie © 2007
Interview with Isbister and quotes by Lucy Laing


Not all prematurely born babies need to be hooked to machines to survive - in fact, they may just do better skin-to-skin on Momma's chest. It is a technique as old as humanity ~ to hold your baby close and regulate all the newborn systems ~ something we now refer to as Kangaroo Mother Care.

When Carolyn Isbister held her 20-ounce newborn daughter close to her chest for the first time she believed it was the only time she would ever snuggle with her beautiful, beloved baby. She breathed in each moment holding her daughter close, as doctors told her to let go because her daughter only had minutes to live.
I didn’t want her to die being cold. So I lifted her out of her blanket and put her against my skin to warm her up. Her feet were so cold. It was the only cuddle I was going to have with her, so I wanted to remember the moment. Then something remarkable happened. The warmth of her mother’s skin kick started Rachael’s heart into beating properly, which allowed her to take little breaths of her own.
We couldn’t believe it - and neither could the doctors. She let out a tiny cry. The doctors came in and said there was still no hope – but I wasn’t letting go of her. We had her blessed by the hospital chaplain, and waited for her to slip away. But she still hung on. And then amazingly the pink color began to return to her cheeks. She literally was turning from gray to pink before our eyes, and she began to warm up too.
Despite all the doctors' disbelief - when all the 'experts' said there was no hope - Rachael's mother held her close, and gave her life. Her mother, however, remembers clearly that everyone gave up on her tiny newborn,
They didn’t even try to help her with her breathing as they said it would just prolong her dying.
At 24 weeks, a uterine infection had led to her premature labor and birth, and Isbister (who also has two children Samuel, 10, and Kirsten, 8) said, "We were terrified we were going to lose her. I had suffered three miscarriages before, so we didn't think there was much hope." When Rachael was born she was grey and lifeless. Ian Laing, a consultant neonatologist at the hospital, said that, "All the signs were that the little one was not going to make it and we took the decision to let mum have a cuddle as it was all we could do. Two hours later the wee thing was crying. This is indeed a miracle baby and I have seen nothing like it in my 27 years of practice. I have not the slightest doubt that this mother’s love saved her daughter." Rachael was moved onto a ventilator where she continued to make steady progress and was tube and syringe fed her mother's pumped breastmilk.
The doctors said that she had proved she was a fighter and that she now deserved some intensive care as there was some hope. She had done it all on her own – without any medical intervention or drugs. She had clung on to life – and it was all because of that cuddle. It had warmed up her body and regulated her heart and breathing enough for her to start fighting.
At five weeks, Rachel was taken off the ventilator and began breastfeeding on her own. At four months Rachel went home with her parents - weighing 8lbs - the same as any other healthy newborn. Having suffered from a lack of oxygen so early in life, doctors feared damage had been done to Rachel's brain. A scan, however, showed no evidence of any problems, and today Rachel is on par with her peers.
She is doing so well. When we brought her home, the doctors told us that she was a remarkable little girl. And most of all, she just loves her cuddles. She will sleep for hours, just curled into my chest. It was that first cuddle which saved her life - and I'm just so glad I trusted my instinct and picked her up when I did. Otherwise she wouldn't be here today.

Holding a baby on one's chest, skin-to-skin, is referred to as Kangaroo Mother Care. However, it is a practice that all mammals participate in (just watch a cat with her new kittens or dog with her newborn puppies). Kangaroo Mother Care benefits ALL babies in several ways.

*KMC babies stabilize faster with skin-to-skin care than in an incubator (very few newborns stabilize well within an incubator during the first fragile hours of life).

*KMC babies have stable oxygen rates and breathing thanks to the steady regulation of mother's respiration.

*A KMC baby's heart rate is stable (mother's heartbeat regulates baby's heartbeat).

*A baby's temperature is most stable on his mother - in skin-to-skin care mother's chest automatically warms to warm a cold baby, while her core temperature drops if baby is too warm and needs to be cooled.

*Sleeping within an arm's reach of baby (as long as a parent does not smoke) also regulates all of his physiological needs in the same way ~ they are kept steady thanks to Mom's warm, even-paced body. We lose far fewer babies to prematurity, irregularity of breathing or heartbeat after birth, and SIDS all with the natural help of skin-to-skin holding, or Kangaroo Care.


Read more about the skin-to-skin benefits for all babies (full term and premature) at KangarooMotherCare.com.

Good books related to Kangaroo Mother Care:
The Premature Baby Book
The Vital Touch
Kangaroo Babies

Read more about the benefits of sleeping within an arm's reach of baby ('sharing sleep') at Dr. Sears' site, in these excellent baby sleep books, at Dr. McKenna's baby sleep site and library, or any of the links at the Baby Sleep Resource Page.

~~~~

41 comments:

  1. my son was born at 24 weeks his name is isaiah he was 1 lb 6 oz 620 grams .my son is a miracle.god is good.i pleeded with god i will teach him about you if i get to keep him.he is yours either way.this time in my life is when i learned god gives and takes away.i seen it right before my eyes,it was heart breaking hearing the crys of family.i grew very close to god.he taught me just how big he is.he has a plan.we just need to trust him.my son is 11 now he has bright red hair brown eyes. a tear will always be there about this time in my life.god bless.

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  2. What an incredible story, so amazing to read. I will always remember this when working with birthing mothers. Miracles can happen

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  3. wow what a ispireing story.i have a baby tht is 5 weeks today and she loves to be cuddled.i will try that.

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  4. I read birth stories all day every day and have to say that this one will stick with me forever.
    Follow your instincts and they will almost always lead you the right way. In this case they were leaps and bounds above medicine and scientific thought.
    Hooray! I will share this with everyone I know.

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  5. reading this story really touched my heart. What a miracle and well done Mum for listening to her untuitive voice.

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  6. Great now you have me crying and wondering about my baby Maggie. I had to have a C-Section and was told she wouldn't live. I was never allowed to hold her as they took me straight to recovery. Her daddy held her until she died. Now I wonder if I had been allowed to hold her skin to skin, would she have rallied and lived????

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    1. I know you posted this years ago, but I just read this story and the comments tonight. I wondered, "Is that mommy still wondering? Still hurting?" Please know that you did everything right in trying to save your Maggie. You sent her daddy to be with her. He was holding her. Daddies do kangaroo care too! Her life mattered. Your angel lived... albeit too briefly... but she lived. And she knew she was loved. Daddy's arms told her so. Rest in that peace. **hugs**

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  7. Sweetheart, don't do that to yourself. You need to believe that what happened for you was the right outcome. You'll tear yourself up with what-ifs. Find what peace you can from any good memories or good things that came from your experience. Or you could turn the pain of wondering about Maggie into making sure other moms like you know to try skin-to-skin! It's wonderful, not only for saving lives, but for bonding and breastfeeding!

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  8. Incredible! Thanks for sharing!

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  9. When the cord is not cut right away after birth, lack of oxygen becomes less of an issue, because the baby still receives oxygen via the blod in the placenta for severa minutes after birth. So - birth ->direct skin-to-skin ->wait for explusion of placenta -> cut cord. Simple. Doctors, stop messing with nature!

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  10. Amazing!it just shows and proves we- women- were chosen to bear children for a reason, we are special and our love CAN do miracles.I am so so happy for this family...

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  11. My daughter was born at 28wks and only 2 lbs. My husband and I did kangaroo care with her everyday. I truely believe it had a lot to do with how well she did along with the amazing staff of the NICU. We are truely blessed to have her in our lives.

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  12. What a beautiful story. Thanks so much for posting it. A mother's instincts are so important and so is skin to skin contact.

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  13. Wonderful story of a strong woman following her natural maternal instincts. Bravo mama. In addition to skin-to-skin, infant massage is also extremely beneficial.

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  14. My daughter Rebecca was born at 31 weeks following pPROM at 26 weeks.. my husband and I both did Kangaroo care with her every chance we got.. oh how precious those moments where when we got to lift her out of the isolet and hold her close..thank you SO much for sharing your story.. what an amazing miracle!! Praise be to God!!!!

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  15. What an incredible story about the power of intuition and maternal bonding. We need to hear more stories like this so women know before they go to hospitals to have their babies what could happen and the power they hold within themselves....

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  16. Beautiful! Just Beautiful!

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  17. i am so moved by this story -- thank you for sharing it.

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  18. What a miracle! Love this story!

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  19. God is amazing! I lost my daughter when I was only 24 weeks along. If I had known about this then I would have tried it! Everything happens for a reason and I do my best to not think about the what ifs. I got pregnant again and had my son in April. He was born at 33 weeks...I spent all my time in the NICU with him. I learned about kangaroo care and did it as much as possible! My son is now home and healthy and does best when he's skin to skin with mom or dad! My little miricle baby! He's got his sister watching over him!

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  20. My son Jacob was born at 24 weeks and is now a perfectly happy and healthy 18 month old. I am actually horrified at the fact that these doctors saw what was happening and still said there was nothing they could do to help her!! I am so happy they finally did something and saved this little girl. We did kangaroo care every day starting on Day 6 until Jacob was big enough to be taken out of his isolette and put in a crib. He came home after 4 months in the hospital at 7 lbs 9 oz. He has thrived ever since!

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  21. BLESS YOU FOR BELIEVING IN HER @KNOWING GOD WOULD LET HER LIVE

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  22. Wow this is a moving story. A Miracle baby indeed.

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  23. My daugther, Rebeka, was born premature. She couldn't breathe on her own nor could she regulate her temperature. I live in Albania and the doctors did not let me hold her at all. It was 10 days before I held her in my arms for the first time. From that day, she started getting better. Once at home, I slept with Rebeka on my chest every night and during the day. We did this for 3 months. Rebeka is now a happy, peaceful and thriving 7 month old who still loves to cuddle. I am very much in agreement that skin-to-skin cuddling has wonderful affects!

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  24. Dr Nils Bergman of Cape Town says that though this is wonderful, it is in no way uncommon, and that babies, sometimes even thought to be dead, will revive if placed skin-to-skin on the mother's chest. He says such a case happened recently in Cape Town, and that it is far from the first time. We have much to learn from this.

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  25. This is beautiful and inspiring...reiterates the strong bond between mother and child and also the importance of skin-to-skin bonding. Biology at its finest!!!!!!

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  26. Is that 1/2 kg in modern money? Philip, Manchester, England.

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  27. Absolutely amazing God is sooo good, doctors try to play God and it rarely works. I admire this mother, her instincts paid off. I am sending a copy of this to my daughter, who is trying for a baby and also to others to inspire them. Thanks.

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  28. My son was born 6 weeks early. I was not allowed to see him for the first 6 hours. Every fiber in my body knew that he needed me but my body was frozen from having the c-section. The nursing staff ignored me, there was nothing I could do. For the next few days the nursing staff even told me that I should limit my time holding him, that too much "stimulation" would be harmful. I knew that they were wrong. Our hospitals and medical community have a long way to go. He is a happy healthy 3 year old now but I know my sons healing would have gone faster and less traumatic if I could have been his bed for his first week of life.

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  29. Please know that skin to skin contact with dad is natural, nurturing and helpful also!! Dad's can help to regulate temps, respirations and heartbeats too! Just a bit of information that just may help with the survival of an infant if momma can't be the one cuddling a newborn (God Forbid!)

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  30. This is a wonderful story and we rejoice. Let us not , though , "Throw out the baby with the bathwater", and slate the Medical Profession, who are God's merciful provision to save many lives. The fact is, that without Special Care Baby Units, the vast majority of babies born before 28 weeks would not make it. Many have given their working lives to saving these little ones. Of course, no doctor , nor any other human being is God , nor the expertise that anyone has , anything other than the gift of God. Let us be thankful for these gifts. Because of sin, every gift can be misused or become a matter of pride and the Medical Profession are no exception.
    Kangaroo care is a God given instinct, which in this situation was used by God to give this precious little one life, but spare a thought for those who loved no less, and yet their child died .God is sovereign . He determines who lives and the means by which our lives are spared. So , dear mothers, who fret over the what iifs ,with God there are no what IFs. Bring your pain to Him, who can sympathize as no other can.
    What if there is no mother , as happened to a lovely family, I happen to know? 2 weeks ago. 4 young children, and Mom died having number 5 . She will be burried tomorrow.
    Baby has survived and after 2 weeks in Special Baby Care, can now go home. What will happen to him ? The prayers of his mother will be answered ! He will grow up surrounded by prayer and God's Word. He will know a father who will pray for his precious soul daily. He will be surrounded with the love of an extended family who will pray for Him and tell him he needs a Saviour. And my prayer is that one day , he will see his mother , who he never saw in this world. I pray that together, they will rejoice in the presence of God, with the whole family
    and be able to say , " Truly, it was good for me to have been afflicted "

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  31. Thank you for sharing your story and God Bless you and your wonderful daughter.

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  32. I thank GOD for drs but they need to learn that not all medical knowledge comes from a book.Please please listen to the woman on the table.This story touched me deeply. my babies are grown now but i still remember the feel of there tiny bodies snuggled on my chest.There is nothing like it ever.

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  33. a beautiful story. I'm so glad it all worked out so well. Has tears running down my face.

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  34. Such a precious story. I surely believe! CONGRATS!!

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  35. As my husband said, this is "the way it should be." When my son was born every time they'd take him and bring him back, I'd take off all his clothes and blankets, pull down my gown, and put him on my chest. This is how we spent the first few days at the hospital. Once when the nurse brought him back she said, "I wasn't going even going to dress him because I knew you'd just undress him!"

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  36. This little girl is in school now. Please do a follow-up on her. I'd love to hear she is doing well, with no learning disabilities.

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  37. 1 Lb 7oz baby girl here! She was breathing on her own at birth but we intubated her just in case but that gave her pnuemonia! She's about to be 2!

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  38. This is so heartwarming! As I read this post, I actually felt the very life Carolyn gave to Rachel! I am so glad I stumbled upon this; courtesy: a post on Facebook! :)

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  39. Love this post. I lost one grandson who only weighed 1 lb 9 oz while his twin who weighed only two more oz survived. Mom did the KMC with my surviving grandson and now he is a big boy that you could never believe had been so tiny. Even though none of my little ones were in danger that way I did a lot of skin to skin and holding them while they slept. Even did that with my first granddaughter. I find it is so important for both mother and child. I raised six healthy children.

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