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The Impact of Birth Interventions on Maternal & Infant Behaviour and Physiology

by Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Duration: 60 Mins
  • Credits: .1 Midwifery CEU
  • Handout: No

Pregnancy, labor, birth and skin-to-skin contact after birth form an entity. Oxytocin is being released during all these phases; by estrogen during pregnancy and by sensory stimulation during birth (the Fergusson reflex) and skin-to-skin contact (activation of cutaneous nerves). Oxytocin in the circulation and the activity in the autonomic nervous system stimulate uterine contractions during labor. Oxytocin is also released from nervous pathways in the brain during birth and during skin-to-skin contact after birth. Mental and physiological adaptations are induced, which facilitate motherhood, by oxytocin released from nerves in the brain. The anti-stress effects induced by oxytocin are particularly strongly activated by skin-to-skin contact. It is obvious that any intervention during birth, that hinders activation of oxytocin release e.g. elective Cesarean Section, or blockade of the Fergusson reflex during vaginal birth by e.g. epidural analgesia, might interfere with the oxytocin related adaptations. Separation of mother and baby after birth, the presence of clothes as well as administration of certain types of anesthetic drugs, such as marcain, which block the activation of cutaneous sensory nerves during skin-to-skin contact, might counteract the physiological and behavioral effects induced during skin-to-skin contact after birth. Examples of such negative consequences will be discussed in the presentation.

Learning Objectives:

Objective 1: To clarify that labor, birth and skin to skin contact immediately after birth are part of the “birth program”
Objective 2: To describe the role of oxytocin during labor, birth and skin-to-skin contact after birth
Objective 3: To describe how different birth interventions by influencing sensitivity of the skin and the release of oxytocin influence maternal & infant behavior and physiology during and after birth

Presentations: 20  |  Hours / CE Credits: 20.25  |  Viewing Time: 8 Weeks