It is common practice to allow mothers to cradle their babies while still in the operating theatre to allow bonding. Picture: Pixnio

London - Giving newborn babies to their mothers for a "skin-on-skin" cuddle straight after a C-section puts both of them at risk, doctors have warned.

It is common practice to allow mothers to cradle their babies while still in the operating theatre to allow bonding.

But doctors from Spain and the Netherlands have reported two cases in which the baby interfered with the electrode monitors on the mother’s chest.

In one case it sparked fears the mother was having heart problems, and in the second the baby actually sucked at the electrode, putting the infant at risk.

The incidents, reported in the European Journal of Anaesthesiology, prompted calls for a change in practice. 

The authors – from La Zarzuela University Hospital in Madrid and St Antonius Hospital in Woerden – wrote: "When planning skin-to-skin contact in the operating room, we recommend ECG electrodes should be placed where no contact will be possible with the new baby [to avoid] ECG interference with the child."

Dr Nicolas Brogly, from Madrid, said: "Both of these cases show that through the baby touching an ECG electrode, the cardiac electric activity of the baby can merge with the mother’s.

"This... represents a risk for both the mother and the baby.The alarm on the monitor could have led to a misdiagnosis, which could then have led to... using the defibrillator on the mother to stabilise her heart rate."

But Pat O’Brien, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said early contact is vital.

"Early skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her newborn baby can improve breastfeeding which is associated with many health benefits," he said.

Daily Mail