Birth is nothing short of a miracle. You have run the marathon of your life with the world’s best trophy at the end. That moment your baby is placed on your chest changes you forever! You are now a mama, or maybe now you are adding precious members to your growing family.
Health care providers now understand the latest research about leaving babies directly with their moms after birth. Research shows babies transition best skin to skin with their mom. There should not be a rush to separate the two, to weigh, to measure, or to bundle and pass around to grandparents. Your baby has been as close as he could get when you carried him for nine months- keeping him close is what he needs to transition to life on the outside.
So how do you do skin to skin? Remove your bra and have the baby placed directly on your chest. Place warm blankets over top both of you with the corners tucked under your underarms.
How long should you do skin to skin? Direct skin to skin contact in the first hour of life has shown to increase breastfeeding success. Babies breathing normalizes, their temperature stabilizes and they start to show signs of being interested in feeding. Skin to skin also helps regulate your baby’s blood sugar. When he was in the inside, your placenta was in charge of regulating his sugars, but on the outside, he relies on your milk to do this. Stress from birth, feeling cold, or being born big or small for his gestational age can cause a drop in blood sugar; which actually makes breastfeeding so much more challenging. Skin to skin mediates this by helping your baby preserve their storage of sugar they were born with, making nursing easier.
Left skin to skin will help aid breastfeeding. Being near their mother’s breasts helps babies cue and think about nursing.
Crying is in fact the last sign on hunger. Nursing happens easier when moms are in tune and catch the earlier signs. Skin to skin allows for this. The baby may bring his hands to his mouth, and will start to bob his head side to side, while simultaneously opening his mouth. This is known as rooting. It looks like the cutest baby yawn, but he is actually looking for the nipple! Your little one will actually find his way to your nipple if left in skin to skin. He will choose if he wants to nurse off your left or right breast by starting to migrate towards one. Support his head and his body and let him lead the way!
Skin to skin is not something that is done for the first hour of birth only. It has proven to decrease crying and is the perfect spot for a fussy newborn. In the beginning of life, anytime you are awake, keep your baby skin to skin. You will learn his cues and his needs and solidify an already incredible bond.
Skin to skin is not limited to only moms! It can be dangerous to do skin to skin if you feel sleepy, as you can’t support your baby if you fall asleep. This is where your partner can help! Skin to skin benefits baby regardless of who is doing it.
Resist the urge to bundle your baby like a burrito and pass him around to his very large fan club! As a family, you will reap the benefits of skin to skin- slow down and enjoy those moments with your beautiful baby.