OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to compare the stress response and pain expression of newborns (NBs) in the early postpartum period.
STUDY DESIGN: This was a prospective study with 280 NBs enclosed at 3 Swiss university hospitals. Stress response and pain reaction were analyzed according to the mode of delivery: elective cesarean section (ELCS), spontaneous vaginal delivery, and assisted vaginal delivery by vacuum extraction (VE). Saliva cortisol and clinical pain expression were evaluated after delivery and before and after heel prick for metabolic screening.
RESULTS: Significant differences were evident during the first 72 hours postpartum with highest nominations in the VE group. Meconium-stained amniotic fluid was the only intrapartum stress factor with an impact on clinical pain expression.
CONCLUSION: NBs delivered vaginally show a higher incidence of stress response and pain expression than infants of the ELCS group. The long-term impact of these findings remains to be determined.