Skin to Skin contact with your baby
What wonders Skin to Skin contact can do
Skin to Skin contact has many benefits both you and your baby. Not only can you enjoy the benefits but fathers too can grab the chance to enjoy bonding with your baby.
In my profession and hospital I work in, we always use skin to skin contact with all mothers as much as we can. The research shows the benefits can have a positive effect on the mother and baby even up to a year after your baby is born.
Whatever method of feeding you choose for your baby, skin to skin is beneficial. There is a common belief from mothers that only breastfed babies should have skin to skin - which is not true.
If you think of Humans being mammals, what do they do? They keep their young close to them when they are born as it is only natural to do this.
Benefits of Skin to Skin
Skin to Skin is beneficial for mother and baby
Once your baby has been born and there is an environment where you can enjoy a quiet and unhurried moment with your baby, then skin to skin is very beneficial. If you are unwell or you are separated from your baby for some reason then skin to skin should be initiated as soon as you can do this. It will still benefit even if is days later.
- It will help keep baby warm - babies can lose heat very quickly throughout their bodies, when they are born they are cold, wet and slippery! Drying your baby and putting him/her on skin to skin will help warm baby up as long as you are then both covered up.
- It will help calm you and your baby - if skin to skin is to warm a baby up it will also calm them down, babies don't like being exposed they feel vulnerable so keeping them close is safety for them.
- Regulate the heart rate and breathing - if baby is calm then this comes naturally.
- Stimulates your baby into producing saliva, rooting, searching for food and crawling to the breast therefore enabling that first important feed.
- Triggers the receptors in the breast to attract prolactin hormones that are released from the brain. This is known as 'priming' the cells in the breast.
- Help the mothers uterus to contract as the release of the hormone Oxytocin has been stimulated. Oxytocin also helps to stop excessive bleeding from the delivery.
- Encourage the start of a close and loving relationship with your baby - Bonding.
Premature or ill Babies
If your baby is born prematurely, or ill after delivery it may not be possible for you to have skin to skin with your baby straight away. However as soon as your baby is stable enough to be held then skin to skin can be a great benefit to you and your baby even if it is done later. It is also known as Kangaroo care.
- This helps to regulate your baby's temperature
- Regulate your baby's heart rate and breathing
- Aids your baby to a longer and more restful sleep
- Encourages breastfeeding
- May enhance weight gain and so contribute to an earlier discharge home
During the infancy period.
Skin to skin contact does not have to be restricted to the very early days after birth. It can be encouraged with your baby at any time and can benefit by:
- Calming down a fractious baby
- Encourage good mothering
- Encourage babies to root, especially good if you are having feeding difficulties, it will trigger off and encourage the breastfeeding hormones to step back into action again.
Breastfeeding related articles
- Benefits of Breastfeeding and Breastmilk
Breastfeeding is beneficial in all sorts of ways for both the mother and the baby. It is useful to look at the benefits of breastfeeding and breast-milk in two separate ways.