If you’ve read through my tips for your postnatal journey, you would have read about the importance of skin to skin immediately after birth and for the first hours postpartum. Skin to skin is defined as a naked (or diapered) baby ideally on the mother’s naked chest, with the head to the side so the infant’s nose is not blocked. Ask your nurse or lactation consultant to help you with positioning.
Prolonged skin to skin was out of favour several years ago when the norm was to take the newborn to the nursery to let mommy rest. However, with more recent research on the topic, things have changed and skin to skin is becoming the new norm if immediate medical interventions are not needed. Skin to skin can also take place in the operating room and in recovery after a C-Section. Just let your medical team aware of your wishes.
If the mother-newborn dyad is separated due to complications with mommy, skin to skin with another immediate family member is the next best thing.
Wamback and Riordan in Breastfeeding and Human Lactation (2016) offer some key benefits of skin to skin for both mom and baby:
- Helps to stabilize the newborn’s temperature and blood sugar levels.
- Promotes and facilitates breastfeeding.
- Decreases maternal stress levels (especially after a difficult birth).
- More infant crying from stress of separation, and during painful procedures if not skin to skin.
- May decrease depressive symptoms and physiological stress in the first months postpartum in some women.
- Attachment and bonding are enhanced for both mom and infant.
Skin to skin can be continued for the first few months postpartum on a daily basis. This continues to encourage with breastfeeding as well as the special bonding moments with your new baby.
Plus those quiet, close snuggles are the BEST!!!