Imagine a world where a baby is born and handed off to nurses and doctors immediately, not because of a particular emergency, but rather because that's just how things happen. Imagine the minutes that pass by before your baby is in your arms. Perhaps they are already squeaky clean; perhaps they've already been given a shot and perhaps your arms weren't the first ones they felt secure in. You didn't get that skin to skin contact with your baby. That moment of bliss.
Unfortunately sometimes, most often past times, that may have been the case. And even more unfortunately sometimes this has to be the case in the event of early labor, certain c sections, medical issues and so on. Or perhaps you as a mother did not know that you had a right to say what would happen immediately after your baby is pulled out of your, you know what. Skin to skin contact is becoming an increasingly popular term in the world of pregnant bellies and labor rooms. It's becoming the "thing to do" and one of the most important things that you can request to do.
What is skin to skin contact?
Skin to skin contact is simply the request and action of having your brand spanking new baby placed on your bare chest (or abdomen) immediately after their arrival. I'm talking immediately after they are pulled straight out of your, you know what. As strange as this may sound considering your baby isn't going to be squeaky clean and will be covered in all of the wonderful things that protect them during the pregnancy, somehow that just doesn't even matter. Somehow all of that "stuff" just doesn't bother you. Truthfully, you don't even notice it. And that sweet, beautiful baby lies there on your bare chest with a blanket covering the two of you for what feels like the absolute most precious moments of your life.
Why is skin to skin contact beneficial to your newborn?
Skin to skin makes the transition from mama's belly to the real world much easier for your little one. How would you feel if you was suddenly pushed and pulled out of the safest, warmest place you've ever known? The only place you've ever known. Your belly is the only place your child has ever known. Your heartbeat, your voice, your safe haven for them is their security. It's what they need to thrive.
As crazy as it may sound to some, skin to skin has a tremendous impact on the short term and long term benefits of the baby. Newborns placed on mother's skin immediately after birth show signs of less stress indicated by little crying and have much more stable glucose, respiratory, blood pressure and temperature levels as well as a better heart rate. Additionally, the exposure to natural bacteria on your body will help protect your newborn from other germs within their new environment. In other words your body, your temperature and your heartbeat will help stabilize and calm them. It helps them adjust to life outside of the womb. Another huge benefit is the increased success in relation to breastfeeding.
Why is it so important for breastfeeding?
Skin to skin contact is actually considered to be extremely help to breastfeeding. Most mamas that do skin to skin will have a higher success rate at breastfeeding as well as a longer duration of it too. Research has shown that when a newborn is placed skin to skin on mother's abdomen (or chest) they will in time find the nipple and latch on. As crazy as it sounds, this can very well happen to you! My recommendation is to request immediate skin to skin, followed by your first breastfeeding session. Don't let visitors in just yet and if the nurses have to do something to your baby, see if it can wait. If it cannot wait, then have it done right their while you're close enough for baby to hear your voice and have baby returned to your arms immediately.
Why is it beneficial to mother?
One of the perks of skin to skin for mother is the added dose of Oxytocin that happens. Skin to skin with your baby will help you produce more of this "falling in love" hormone, which is in fact the same hormone that helps with milk production, uterus size and even your mood. While baby is on your skin, the movement from them can stimulate your body to release more Oxytocin and happy endorphins. This is a win-win all the way around!
So how do you go about this?
It is very simple - you just request it. If you're lucky like I was, I actually didn't have to request it (I did though), it is a standard procedure that my doctor's office does (as long as the mother wishes). Create a birth plan and make sure to share it with your doctor or midwife at one of your last meetings before the birth. As soon as that baby is pulled out, make sure to have him or her placed on you. It is the most amazing and beautiful thing ever. As your placenta comes out and as the little tears are repaired, you'll only be thinking of one thing -- that beautiful baby in your arms (it really helps while they stitch those small tears!). And if by chance, you can't do skin to skin immediately after delivery, then don't beat yourself up over it. The first second you get, place that baby on your skin!
Continue to do skin to skin in those first several weeks. Skin to skin is especially helpful when babies seem reluctant to nurse for whatever reason. It is simply the most beautiful bonding time to have that sweet, little life that you created nuzzled up on your chest. It will be baby's favorite place to go. And don't forget to include daddy in skin to skin as well! Because after all, daddy made that baby too and deserves some bonding!
Ahhhhh, okay, I am ready for another newborn!
Did you do skin to skin contact after your baby was born?
Thanks for reading, Sasha