Skin-to-skin contact is one of the most amazing things you can do for your baby. It provides numerous benefits for both you and your baby, including reducing stress for both parent and baby, promoting healthy breastfeeding and stabilising the newborn’s heart rate. But what exactly is skin to skin? How does it work? And why is it so important?
What is skin-to-skin?
Skin-to-skin contact is the act of holding your baby skin-to-skin, immediately after birth. The benefits of skin-to-skin are truly astounding. Encouraging this practice can help increase breastfeeding success, prevent early neonatal death, improve infant brain development, decrease infant crying and promote bonding between mother and child.
What are the benefits for a baby?
Investigating the research on skin-to-skin contact can help us understand its importance and how we can use it to our advantage. It’s not just for mothers having a natural, vaginal birth. You don’t need to discard it from your plan if labour doesn’t progress as you’d hoped. It isn’t limited to what you do straight after birth, as this can vary depending on your medical circumstances and how the birth progressed – but as a valuable tool in the fourth trimester and beyond.
- Your body warmth helps to keep baby at a comfortable temperature
- Heart rate and breathing become more stable for baby
- Reduce stress for baby
- You will transfer good bacteria to baby
- Your scent and heartbeat provides comfort
- Your baby will be more content and cry less.
- It promotes healthy breastfeeding
What are the benefits for a mother?
Skin-to-skin contact is an important part of our human experience. It provides a deep connection between you and your baby, helping you feel more confident in your abilities as a mother.
- Helps your uterus contract when practiced post birth
- Promotes the hormone prolactin which makes milk
- Enhances bonding with your baby
- Lowers risk of postpartum depression
- Aids relaxation
- Creates an environment that fosters bonding and attachment
When can skin-to-skin be practiced?
Skin-to-skin can be practiced anytime, day or night. It is recommended that you practice skin-to-skin for the first hour of your baby’s life and the first 24 hours after birth. It is also recommended that you practice it in the fourth trimester and beyond.
That said, the benefits of skin-to-skin don’t just disappear once your baby hits the 12-week mark. Skin-to-skin care can be used throughout your motherhood journey as a means to calm and ground your baby. It can be just as helpful in toddlerhood when adapted to a wriggly toddler. Lots of cuddles and hugs for your toddler can promote a healthy attachment and help your child massively.
How do I practice skin-to-skin?
The first hour after birth (often called the golden hour) is an important time for bonding. You can make sure they know that (provided mother and baby are healthy) your baby be placed on you for skin to skin before being weighed and clothed.
The most important thing is that you keep your baby warm and comfortable while they’re on your chest. A blanket or towel over both of you will help keep them warm while also providing an extra layer of protection against germs if necessary (you can take it off if needed). The most important thing is that you spend some quality time with each other during this special moment in both of their lives.
Later on, you can practice skin-to-skin at home. A sling or baby carrier can be great. Or simply put them on your bare chest in bed or in the bath and enjoy these precious moments with your baby.
It’s never too late to practice skin-to-skin with your child
Skin to skin contact is a natural way to bond with your baby. It helps the newborn feel safe and secure, which can help him or her sleep better. It also helps mothers recover faster from childbirth and have healthier babies.
Being skin-to-skin with your newborn is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby.
Skin to skin contact is a powerful experience for both parents and babies. It is one of the best things you can do for your baby, and it has many benefits for both of you. The best way to start practicing skin-to-skin contact is to be proactive about it. Make sure that whenever possible, you put your baby directly on your chest after birth so that he or she can get used to being there before transitioning into life outside of the womb.