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Sierra Leone News: Caesarean sections had effects on early breastfeeding – WHO

The UN agency of health has said that the rising rates of elective caesarean sections worldwide have had consequences on the early initiation of breastfeeding, as reported in the publication, “Capture the Moment-Early initiation of breastfeeding: The best start for every newborn”.
Several studies have shown that surgical deliveries can reduce the likelihood of immediate skin-to-skin contact and the early initiation of breastfeeding. Access to surgical deliveries, where medically needed, is a critical part of ensuring safer deliveries for newborns and their mothers.
According to statistics caesarean sections globally have increased from an average of 13% in 2005 to more than 20% in 2017. All regions are said to have witnessed a large increase in rates of caesarean sections, apart from Sub-Saharan Africa, where rates have remained somewhat unchanged.
“In one study, women who ultimately delivered by caesarean section after an unsuccessful trial of labour were more likely to initiate breastfeeding within the first hour after birth than women with a scheduled repeat caesarean section” the report wrote.
An analysis of key factors linked to early initiation rates among babies delivered by a skilled birth attendant showed that the type of delivery can significantly affect when the newborn is put to the breast.
Consistently, across all 51 countries studied, early initiation rates among newborns delivered by vaginal birth were more than twice as high as early initiation rates among newborns delivered by caesarean section.
A statistically significant difference was seen in all but 4 of the 51 countries studied and these findings are said to be concerning because immediate skin-to-skin contact and the initiation of breastfeeding are especially important for babies born by caesarean section.
“The close contact between mother and baby protects newborns with ‘good’ bacteria from their mother’s body – a critical step in developing the baby’s gut health and immune system. With a vaginal delivery, this process likely occurs in the birth canal” the report says. “There is some evidence that immediate or early skin-to-skin contact after a caesarean section can help increase early breastfeeding initiation and decrease the time to the first breastfeed.”
The report however suggested that with the right support, most newborns delivered by caesarean section can be put to the breast within the first hour after birth. But, in practice, women who deliver by caesarean section often face important challenges in initiating breastfeeding, such as managing the effects of anesthesia, recovering from surgery and finding help to hold the baby safely.
Some of the key actions highlighted to facilitate skin-to-skin contact and initiation of breastfeeding immediately after birth, includes having an appropriate policy and protocol in the maternity facility, building the skills of staff and involving fathers in breastfeeding support. ZJ/6/8/18
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
Friday August 09, 2018.

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