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Essential Newborn Care (ENC)

TThe ENC Protocol is a step-by-step guide for health workers and medical practitioners issued by the Department of Health for implementation under Administrative Order 2009-0025.

What are these step-by-step interventions?

Immediate drying

Using a clean, dry cloth, thoroughly dry the baby, wiping the face, eyes, head, front and back, arms and legs.

Uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact

Aside from the warmth and immediate bonding between mother and child, it has been found that early skin-to-skin contact contributes to a host of medical benefits such as the overall success of breastfeeding/colostrum feeding, stimulation of the mucosa—associated lymphoid tissue system, and colonization with maternal skin flora that can protect the newborn from sepsis and other infectious disease and hypoglycemia.

Proper cord clamping and cutting

Waiting for up three minutes or until the pulsations stop is found to reduce to chances of anemia in full term and pre-term babies. Evidence also shows that delaying cord clamping has no significant impact on the mother.

Non-separation of the newborn from the mother for early breastfeeding initiation and rooming-in

The earlier the baby breastfeeds, the lesser the risk of death. Keeping the baby latched on to the mother will not only benefit the baby (see skin-to-skin contact) but will also prevent doing unnecessary procedures like putting the newborn on a cold surface for examination (thereby exposing the baby to hypothermia), administering glucose water or formula and foot printing (which increases risk of contamination from ink pads) and washing (the WHO standard is to delay washing up to 6 hours; the vernix protects the newborn from infection).

On the other hand, necessary actions such as eye care, vitamin K administration must be timed. Eye care must be done after the infant has located the mother’s breast.

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Research Evidences

A wealth of research evidence has long identified the immediate newborn care practices that save lives. Philippine research has also documented that these evidence-based newborn care interventions are not practiced sufficiently.