We all have this image in our heads that babies come out clean, dry and smelling beautiful. In reality babies come out covered in slime and all the lovely stuff that they have been covered in to protect their skin. Having skin to skin with baby at this magical time is so very important.
Skin to skin is where the baby is directly on your skin with no barrier in between, no clothes or towels.
So why is skin to skin so important?
Regulates their heart beat
It can be such an intense journey for babies to go from a nice dark, quiet place to a noisy, bright and chaotic world. Having them directly on your skin will help soothe your baby and they will hear and feel your heartbeat next to theirs.
Having your baby in skin to skin will initiate the release of colostrum and the baby will be able to smell the magical milk. It is very important to feed baby within the first hour if possible as this will stabilise their blood sugars and set you up for feeding later.
We all want to have an incredible bond with our babies, and skin to skin is a great way to get things started. They will feel safe and protected in your arms and no this won’t spoil them, you can never give your babies enough skin to skin.
If your baby is feeling cold, then popping them in skin to skin will bring their body temperature up a lot quicker than with blankets or clothes. This can be used at any time, not just the first few hours.
Kangaroo care is used in neonatal units where sick babies are placed in skin to skin. Kangaroo care has been widely used all over the world as the benefits have been outstanding. Babies that were previously struggling to maintain their heart rates and temperature were found to stabilise and their condition improved.
When your baby is scared they produce a hormone called adrenaline which initiates their fight or flight reaction. An example is when they have the heel prick test, or any blood test, by popping them in skin to skin, during or after is a great way to calm them down.
If you are struggling to maintain your milk supply or even get it started in the first place then skin to skin will help. Having your baby next to your breast, releases hormones to produce more milk. Also your baby is more likely to feed more often, so that will also help you produce more milk.
As you can see skin to skin has many benefits that you may not have been aware of. Skin to skin is not just for mums though, it can be a great way for dads to bond with their baby especially if mum is having a Caesarean section. You will never look back and think, I gave my baby too much skin to skin, so enjoy the special moments.
For more informative pregnancy, birth and baby related articles, read our Maternity Mum blog.