What About Routine Suctioning?

Another instance in which hospital policy may not match the evidence is with regard to suctioning the baby’s nose and mouth immediately after birth. Some doctors may suction all babies routinely. Others have a policy to only suction if meconium (baby’s first bowel movement) is present. 

However, the newest protocols from the American Academy of Pediatrics say not to suction while the baby is on the perineum at all–whether or not meconium is present. A fellow independent childbirth educator, Jeanne Anderson, was certified in neonatal resuscitation by the American Academy of Pediatrics this year and shared the following information about the AAP’s 2007  guidelines:

“Their latest research indicates that the baby will spit up the meconium on its own, and if it is one that will develop respiratory problems, they will happen regardless of perineal suctioning. The newest protocols are to birth the baby and only wipe any visible mucous from the mouth/nose with a towel as you are handing the baby to the mom and
visually evaluating him/her. If the baby needs more resuscitation it will show up as poor respiratory effort, lowered heart rate or poor color, which can then be addressed. Normal infants will only need help less than 10% of the time.”

3 thoughts on “What About Routine Suctioning?

  1. Hi, I’d like to ask why C section bbies arent suctioned as vigourously as they once were. I learned this when my new grandaughter choked on mucus during her first night at just oer 12 hours old.She was thankfully resuscitated. My daughter noticed her coughing/choking and that she was blue. The midwife wasw called and saw the emergency immediately. She grabbed the, by now darker blue and floppy baby and rushed off with her. Sophie was saved. The next night – yes – another C section baby – same thing. the midwives have told us that babies arent suctioned as they used to be and that is because it is thought to be too stressful for the baby. What is more stressful? suctioning or a dead baby??

  2. That sounds like a very scary situation for your whole family. I’m sorry that it happened to you. 😦

    Babies are not suctioned as they once were because the research evidence does not support doing so (as a routine. Of course it is helpful when babies actually need it). “There is no statistical or physiological basis for oronasopharyngeal suction as a systematic procedure in healthy, term infants delivered by cesarean section.” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16113579). See also:

    http://aapgrandrounds.aappublications.org/cgi/content/extract/13/1/3

    Best wishes,

    Molly

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