Let’s Talk about the Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact After Birth as there is growing evidence that skin-to-skin contact after birth helps babies and their mothers in many ways.
What is immediate skin-to-skin contact?
Skin-to-skin contact is usually referred to as the practice where a baby is dried and laid directly on their mother’s bare chest after birth, both of them covered in a warm blanket and left for at least an hour or until after the first feed.
Why is skin-to-skin contact important?
There is a growing body of evidence that skin-to-skin contact after the birth helps babies and their mothers in many ways:
- Calms and relaxes both mother and baby
- Regulates the baby’s heart rate and breathing, helping them to better adapt to life outside the womb
- Stimulates digestion and interest in feeding
- Regulates temperature
- Enables colonization of the baby’s skin with the mother’s friendly bacteria, thus providing protection against infection
- Stimulates the release of hormones to support breastfeeding and mothering.
What happens during skin-to-skin contact?
When a mother holds her baby in skin to skin contact after birth it initiates strong instinctive behaviours in both.
The mother will experience a surge of maternal hormones and begin to smell, stroke and engage with her baby.
Babies’ instincts after birth will drive them to follow a unique process, which if left uninterrupted will result in them having a first breastfeed.
If they are enabled to familiarise themselves with their mother’s breast and achieve self-attachment it is very likely that they will recall this at subsequent feeds, resulting in fewer breastfeeding problems.
How long should you do skin to skin with a newborn?
Families (yep you can get dad involved) are encouraged to practice Skin-to-Skin for an uninterrupted 60 minutes during the first 12 weeks and beyond.
The Academy of Pediatrics recommends Skin-to-Skin be given as long as possible and as frequently as possible during the postpartum period, which is typically defined as the first 3 months of life.
Did you do skin-to-skin after delivery? Why or why not?