It turns out first impressions really are everything. And the first touches — especially in the form of mother’s skin to skin with baby — make a lasting impact on both the newborn and the new parent.
At The Retreat Birth Center in El Paso, we consider the hours after birth sacred. As long as mom and baby are medically sound we leave as much space as possible for mothers to snuggle their new babies skin to skin and reap all the benefits of that special time.
The benefits of skin to skin contact for baby
You may have heard of “kangaroo care” for preterm infants. This is an evidence-based practice of putting a diapered baby against a parent’s skin, usually inside a shirt or a special wrap. But there’s a growing body of research showing babies born at term also fare best with skin to skin contact. Skin to skin time with baby leads to:
- Enhanced brain development
- Better temperature regulation
- Better respiration
- Balanced blood sugars
- Less post-birth stress
And as if that wasn’t enough reason to make skin to skin contact a priority, we’re also uncovering some great benefits for mom as well.
The benefits of skin to skin contact for mom
- A flood of maternal hormones for bonding
- Increased maternal behaviours
- Better breastfeeding
- Newborn snuggles!
How to “do” skin to skin time with baby
Make sure your care provider knows you want baby to go directly on you after birth. Put “immediate skin to skin contact with baby” in your birth plan, especially if you’re delivering at a hospital, where it may not be part of the normal protocol.
It’s helpful to wear something that’s easy to open or remove, like a robe or a tube top. If you have an IV in place (like for fluids, medications, or antibiotics for GBS,), take a minute to coordinate a plan with your birth partner so they can help you move your clothing around to access the skin of your belly and chest.
Your baby can have a diaper or not, as you prefer. Babies like to sit froggy-legged with their chest against you, and their head turned to hear the familiar beat of your heart. Once you’re both comfortably positioned with as much skin contact as possible, put a warm blanket over baby’s back, and enjoy! Baby has natural nursing instincts, and may tell you when it’s time to change to a nursing position.
There’s not a perfect amount of time for skin to skin with baby, though the first hour is regarded as the most important. There is a predictable process babies go through right after birth that starts with a crying stage, and then a sleepy period. After that baby will usually have an alert period and start exploring for the nipple and nursing. All of this is golden time for skin to skin contact!
Some midwives advise making skin to skin a priority for the first 3-4 weeks of life. You’ll find more tips here.
Dad can enjoy some of the bonding benefits of skin to skin time too. Especially when mom needs a shower break!
Your birth and newborn care choices matter
All of us at The Retreat Birth Center in El Paso are passionate about empowering women to birth without fear, and with the respect of their care provider — wherever they welcome their babies.
If you’d like to learn more about newborn care choices, check out our event calendar here. We also have a series of newborn care blog posts you’ll enjoy, including:
What Is Delayed Cord Clamping?
Why You Should Wait to Bathe Your Newborn
We’d love to show you around The Retreat and talk about your best birth and that sweet skin to skin snuggle time.
To schedule your free tour and consultation, please call (915) 308-5000 or click here.