7.4.4  The warm chain principle in postnatal care

The mother should understand that keeping the baby warm is not a one-time job; it is rather a continuous job which means adhering to the warm chain principle. A warm chain is a system of keeping a baby warm immediately after delivery, wherever it occurs (at a health facility or the mother’s home), during transportation and while feeding and caring for the baby. The components of the warm chain are listed in Box 7.2.

Box 7.2  Components of the warm chain

  • Drying and wrapping the baby immediately at birth.
  • Keeping the baby warm during any procedure, including resuscitation.
  • Keeping the immediate newborn in skin-to-skin contact with the mother.
  • Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of the birth; the warm milk and contact with the mother's body helps to keep the newborn baby warm.
  • Postponing bathing the newborn for the first 24 hours.
  • Keeping the baby warm during transportation.
  • Dressing the baby in appropriate clothing and bedding at all times.

The warm chain principle has to be maintained for all babies, but special care should be taken to keep preterm and low birth weight babies warm, as you will see in the next study session.

7.4.3  How do newborns lose heat?

Summary of Study Session 7