Katie Halverstadt - HudLo Skin-to-Skin Clothing, Arvada, Colo.
After two emergency C-sections, Katie strives to improve postpartum care for babies and moms
Like most first-time moms, Katie Halverstadt envisioned an idyllic birth for her son Hudson, now 8, resulting in a healthy baby and a harmonious mommy-bonding experience. But while an emergency C-section accomplished the first part, the second part wasn’t so simple.
“I didn’t end up getting to see him for three hours,” says the Arvada, Colo., mom, who experienced postpartum complications that left her too “knocked out” with medication to hold Hudson.
Hours later, she woke up in the recovery room alone and panicked, asking herself, “Where’s my baby?”
“I dealt with a lot of disconnected feelings,” she says. “I had a lot of guilt.”
Not only was that the start of her becoming a registered nurse and lactation consultant, it was also the impetus for HudLo Skin to Skin clothing, garments that allow moms and babies “the ease and opportunity to practice hands-free babywearing and breastfeeding on the go,” the company site states.
“No matter how your baby is born, skin-to-skin care should be a standard practice for every birth, at home or in the hospital, and especially after a C-section,” Katie says.
The brainchild of Katie and her husband, Matt Halverstadt—and named for their children, Hudson, 8, and Harlow, 2—HudLo offers new mothers two garment options: a hands-free, skin-to-skin baby carrier; or a Kangaroo Care shirt (a medical term referring to skin-to-skin care) to be used after a C-section or for pre-term babies in intensive care.
So whether your baby is born of a vaginal or cesarean birth, or if you are an adoptive mom, Katie says, “Immediate skin-to-skin contact is crucial in establishing stable vital signs, good breastfeeding practices and emotional bonding.”
Not only does it help stabilize the baby—regulating breathing, body temperature and glucose levels, to name a few—the skin-to-skin care also helps boost immunity by transferring “good” bacteria from mother to baby.
Offering a calming effect for both mom and baby, it also increases a mother’s milk production while decreasing her risk for postpartum depression.
“Really, the safest thing is that mom and baby don’t get separated,” she says. “There’s never been a negative skin-to-skin study.”
Pregnant three years ago with a second child and armed with scientific evidence, the couple brainstormed on ways Katie could stay near the baby should she endure another C-section. She developed the garment idea, and Matt sewed the prototype. (Yes, a husband who sews!)
And while the complete product wasn’t functional in time for Harlow’s birth, another emergency C-section, it’s now the Halverstadts’ mission to help every new baby receive the immediate skin-to-skin care that her children could not.
“After my labor experiences, I know I am a voice for other women, to encourage them and motivate them to ask for what is rightfully theirs during the birthing and postpartum process,” says Katie, who has helped change the standard of postpartum care at her workplace, SCL Health Systems Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge, Colo.
“I am so passionate about nurturing and healing moms through skin-to-skin contact. It is such an easy solution for so many problems,” Katie says. “I completely changed my whole career path to educate and empower moms to have the best time with their baby.”
She and Matt hope to achieve that through fundraising efforts, collecting about one-third so far of their $15,000 minimum start-up cost.
“My ultimate goal with Hudlo is to have every mom wearing one of our garments immediately after delivery, holding baby skin-to-skin and breastfeeding with ease,” Katie says.
Whether that means allowing moms to get outside for a walk, or helping them eat their own dinner or make a phone call hands-free, she says, Hudlo aims “to keep baby in the safest and happiest place: skin-to-skin with Mom.”