In those sweet moments after giving birth, snuggling up with your little one skin-to-skin (also known as kangaroo care) isn't just a cute thing – it's perfection. Skin-to-skin is a practice that involves placing a newborn directly on the bare chest of a parent.. As someone who's all about supporting families in Middle Georgia through birth, I've seen how this simple act can be a game-changer. I love it so much! Let's chat about why snuggling up with your baby is a big deal, why it's awesome, and why it's basically the superhero of postpartum life for families in our community.
Skin To Skin originated in South America in the 1970s when two physicians in Bogotá, Colombia, used it to care for premature babies. They placed these tiny naked infants directly on their mothers' bodies, allowing the mom's warmth to keep the babies cozy. This technique, initially called the **kangaroo mother method**, has since been associated primarily with the skin-to-skin aspect. Here's why skin-to-skin contact is so beneficial for both babies and parents:
1. **Decreasing Stress**: Skin-to-skin time helps reduce stress in both the baby and parents. The physical closeness provides comfort and security.
2. **Bonding and Learning**: Through touch, sight, smell, and hearing, parents and infants learn about each other. This promotes bonding and strengthens the parent-infant relationship.
3. **Stabilizing Vital Signs**: Skin-to-skin contact helps regulate the baby's body temperature, heartbeat, breathing, and blood oxygen levels. It's like a warm, natural incubator. This blows my mind! God created our bodies so beautifully!
4. **Digestion and Immune System**: Babies who experience kangaroo care tend to have better digestion and stronger immune systems.
5. **Sleep and Alert States**: Skin-to-skin encourages babies to spend more time in deep sleep and quiet alert states, which are essential for their development.
6. **Breastfeeding Support**: For breastfeeding moms, skin-to-skin contact realeases oxytocin and can lead to an increased milk supply. By letting your little one do their thing –explore, tasting, latching and nursing– those cuddles kickstart the whole bonding process.
7. **Reducing Postpartum Bleeding**: Moms benefit too! Skin-to-skin care can help reduce postpartum bleeding. The movements of sweet babes feet on Moms belly can act as a uterine massage which can stimulate contarctions and help reduce bleeding.
Not all mothers and infants can do immediate skin-to-skin care after birth. In such cases, alternative practices like pumping breast milk or providing cloth with the parent's/babies scent can help maintain the connection until skin-to-skin care becomes possible. I had to do this when our second baby was in the NICU and it was so sweet to smell his blanket while pumping breatsmilk for him. The nurses had him snuggled up to a shirt I had worn so he had my scent as well.
Here are some helpful tips for successful skin-to-skin contact with your newborn:
Timing: Begin skin-to-skin care as soon as possible after birth. Ideally, within the first hour. This early initiation has numerous benefits.
Undress Both: Remove your baby's clothing down to the diaper. For yourself, wear a loose-fitting shirt or gown that allows easy access to your chest.
Positioning: Sit or recline with your baby directly on your bare chest. Ensure that your baby's head is turned to the side, allowing easy breathing.
Blankets or Towels: Cover both you and your baby with a warm blanket or towel to maintain body heat.
Relax and Breathe: Take slow, deep breaths. Your calmness will soothe your baby.
Eye Contact and Talking: Gently talk to your baby. If possible, maintain eye contact—it's a beautiful way to connect.
Dad Involvement: Dads can also practice skin-to-skin care. It's not just for moms! I always encourage dads to take off shirts and spend some time bonding with their baby. Its the sweetest!
Be Patient: Skin-to-skin contact can last as long as you both feel comfortable. Some babies fall asleep, while others may nurse during this time.
Not just for one day: You can do skin to skin anytime you and/or baby need it. Its not just for those first hours. If baby is extra cranky, mom is feeling bue, low milk supply or you just need that connection, get those sweet cuddles in.
As a doula, childbirth educator, and homebirth midwife right here in the heart of Georgia, I've seen firsthand how those cuddle moments can be pure perfection. It's not just about the physical stuff; it's about wrapping up the emotions and all the goodness for both you and your little one. So, snuggle up and enjoy those precious moments of skin-to-skin time with your little one—it's heartwarming and scientifically beneficial! 🌟👶❤️
Happy snuggles! Bertha
(1) The importance of skin-to-skin with baby after delivery. https://news.sanfordhealth.org/childrens/the-importance-of-skin-to-skin-after-delivery-you-should-know/.
(2) Give 'Em Some Skn: Skin-to-skin contact between babies and parents .... https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/health-topics/magazine/give-em-some-skin.
(3) Skin-to-Skin: Your Parenting Jump Start - Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/baby/skin-to-skin.
(4) Snuggling Your Newborn Against Your Skin Not Only Feels Good—It’s Doing .... https://healthier.stanfordchildrens.org/en/snuggling-your-newborn-against-your-skin-not-only-feels-good-its-doing-good/.
(5) Karimi, Fatemeh Zahra et al. “The Effect of Mother-Infant Skin to Skin Contact after Birth on Third Stage of Labor: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Iranian journal of public health vol. 48,4 (2019): 612-620.