No doubt if you’re having a bub, someone will have mentioned the importance of skin-to-skin with you. And if they haven’t, you’re going to read about it now.
Skin-to-skin is literally that. It’s the newbie nudie on your chest, your partners chest, the new baby’s sibling chest, having a snuggle.
Why is this encouraged? Well besides from it being squishy and delicious, research has found that there are life-altering changes that happen for Mums’, Dads’ and babies when they share a cuddle.
Your love hormone, Oxytocin, the hormone that comes out and says ‘hey’ when you’re feeling safe (think sex, contractions, breastfeeding, smooching), is released, helping with bonding and attachment.
Skin-to-skin is particularly great for Dads and partners to participate in. Whilst the Mums are having that post-birth heavenly shower or cup of tea, partners whip off their shirts, and love on their baby, getting all the loved up feels!
Tip: Ask for a warm blanket from the warmer, nothing better than a toasty snuggle.
If you’re planning on breastfeeding your baby, skin-to-skin is a wonderful way to start your breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding is promoted by giving your baby easy access to its new food source and the time to root around and explore what they’ve got to do. They also are able to smoosh their smell all over your chest, making their mark on their new territory.
Skin-to-skin also helps reduce a baby’s stress hormone (cortisol). Your baby has been listening to your heartbeat from the inside for 9 months, so what could be better for your Bub to transition to the world than them snuggling up on your warm chest, listening to your heartbeat? Just writing this makes me think of a relaxed snuggle bunny all curled up on their mama’s chest, blissed out and loving life on the outside. Winning!!
Skin-to-skin helps to regulate a baby’s temperature, heart rate and their blood sugar levels. As midwives we want babies to be being pink, warm and sweet. Skin-to-skin is a major contributing factor in helping babies to be pink (well perfused – good oxygen levels, good heart rate etc.) warm (normal temperature) and sweet (good blood sugar levels).
Skin-to-skin also does wonderful things to the mamas body, too, but we’ll delve into this in another post.
Keep in mind, if skin-to-skin doesn’t happen immediately at birth, for whatever reason, getting your baby to your chest, or your partners chest as soon as it is possible, still has benefits and is a worthwhile exercise. Plus it feels pretty great, too!
Skin-to-skin is happening more and more, and in some hospitals becoming part of their policies/ highly encouraged now for caesarean section births, so make sure if you want it, that you remind the theatre staff of your wishes.
For the emergency caesar mamas, or the mamas that don’t particularly want their baby immediately on their chest (you might be unwell, nauseous, vomiting etc, and not wanting to in that very moment), this can be a great opportunity for partners to have the first cuddle. I’ve seen many parents in the recovery of theatres taking off their tops and having that delish moment with their new bub. Swooooon!!!!
Remember skin-to-skin isn’t just important when Bub is minutes, hours or a few days old, it is encouraged as much and as often as you want, for as long as you want.
Feature image also by the talented @melissajeanbabies. Check out her piccies – she’s amazing!