20 Jun THE WONDER OF SKIN-TO-SKIN CONTACT
Baby loves a snuggle and don’t we all, but what recent research shows us today is that cuddling our babies uninterrupted and skin-to-skin, directly after their birth, has some truly staggering benefits.
So what is skin-to-skin contact? Skin-to-skin contact or Kangaroo Care (KC) is when a naked baby is popped tummy-down on the mum’s or dad’s bare chest. In the instance of Kangaroo Care, a top is worn over you both. I know… cute.
Take a look at some of the bonuses of snuggling down, and you’ll be whisking that top off with confidence, knowing that those hugs are facilitating the set-up of some pretty serious foundations for your baby’s future.
Here are just some of the spectacular outcomes that skin-to-skin contact supports:
1. STABILISES BABY’S TEMPERATURE
We hear all the time about how babies are unable to regulate their temperature, but what does this really mean?
Simply put, your baby is not able to generate heat due to a lack of ‘shivering mechanism’. This inability results in a drop in his body temperature. However, by facilitating skin-to-skin contact, this temperature-drop can be avoided or in many instances, treated.
Even the simple movement of bub’s body over his mother’s breast leads to increased production of oxytocin. This increase in oxytocin encourages the production of breast milk and breast heat. As baby’s sensory nerves are activated and his skin vessels dilate, baby’s body temp rises! Is that a clever design, or what?!
2. SOOTHES AND CALMS
Oxytocin really is the ‘love drug’. As it’s produced, anxiety and stress dissipate. Baby will become calm and more placid as he rests on your skin, near the beating of your heart.
His cortisol levels (stress hormones) will lower whilst you hold him too. It means a whole lot less crying to contend with. You’ll have one happy baby and be one chilled-out mum 🙂
3. STEADIES BREATHING AND HEART RATE
As baby experiences skin-to-skin contact, his body learns to self-regulate. Research states that 75% of slow heart-rate episodes and sporadic breathing are reduced through the wonder of skin-to-skin contact.
4. STABILISES BABY’S BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS
Hypoglycemia is a common occurrence in infancy and often requires intensive care, which means a period of separation of baby from mum.
According to data presented at the National Conference of the National Assoc. of Paediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) “Simple measures such as early breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact are proven to help maintain or raise blood glucose levels.”
5. ENCOURAGES BETTER SLEEP
If you’re a little sleep-deprived, lean in.. when being held skin-to-skin, most new babies fall into a deep sleep most easily. Who knows, the both of you could score a 60 minute slumber and who would knock that little slice-of-heaven back?!
6. LOWERS RISK OF POST BIRTH BLOOD LOSS AND SPEEDS UP DELIVERY OF PLACENTA
Research shows that the time it takes to birth the placenta is shorter with skin-to-skin contact, directly after birth.
The simple act of bub’s knees and legs pressing on mum’s abdomen aide uterine contractions, as does baby suckling at the breast which stimulates oxytocin, and drives further contractions to deliver the placenta.
And, if those benefits haven’t got you sold, there are additional breastfeeding benefits too.
A baby who receives this contact after birth is more likely to attach well to the breast and breastfeed more effectively and for longer – that’s a truck-load more benefit.
NOT JUST FOR MUMS:
Skin-to-skin contact is a beautiful way for dads/partners to bond with baby also. So, if mum is recovering post-surgery or is not yet well enough to hold baby, baby’s significant-other can pop their top off and cuddle him too. Here’s your chance to show off those pics 🙂
If there are any medical reasons that interfere with this time directly after birth, know that skin-to-skin is recommended for birth and beyond, and your snuggles will most certainly count in the days, weeks and months that lie ahead.
This is such a precious time enjoying and observing your baby and being close. Be present in the now, measurements and making phone calls can wait! Marvel at what you’ve made and what your bodies can do when you hold each other close.
Hugs and more hugs into the ether….
Mum of six fabulous kids and foster-mum to numerous others. Event manager, doula, childbirth educator, lactation counselor, owner of Sydney Birth Support, Mamaway Advocate and an encourager of all mums out there giving it their best crack!