Our Head Midwife and Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Dru Campbell discusses the benefits of skin to skin contact.
WHAT IS SKIN TO SKIN CONTACT?
Skin to skin contact was originally recommended for premature babies to encourage growth and promote well-being. Recent research, however, has indicated that all babies benefit from direct skin to skin contact. Every well and healthy baby should have at least one hour of uninterrupted skin to skin contact with their mother at birth. This is called the ‘golden hour’. It is called this due to the importance of initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of life.
Many babies have a short rest after birth and then will search for the breast after around twenty minutes. Skin to skin contact allows your baby to explore and find their way to the breast.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF SKIN TO SKIN CONTACT?
Many advantages of skin to skin contact exist, including:
- Assists to regulate your baby’s heart and respiratory rate.
- Keeps your baby warm and regulates his or her temperature.
- Encourages your baby to breastfeed. UNICEF recognizes skin to skin contact as an important step towards successful breastfeeding.
- Skin to skin contact often assists babies who have had some challenges with positioning and attachment at the breast.
- You can continue skin to skin contact when you are at home with your new baby to optimize breastfeeding.
- Assists with bonding with your baby.
- Dad’s can do skin to skin too!
- Skin to skin contact enables you to spend precious moments with your new baby when meeting him/her for the first time.
- Even if you have chosen to artificially feed, your baby will benefit from this contact with you and your husband.
HOW CAN I ENSURE THAT SKIN TO SKIN OCCURS?
To ensure you are able to have the valuable and important time with your baby, document your requests in your birth preference list. This is a set of wishes which can be communicated to the Midwife and/or Obstetrician who is supporting you throughout your labor and birth. If possible, skin to skin contact should occur before your baby is weighed and measured and as soon as possible following an assisted birth. Your midwife will be able to assist you to correctly position and attach your baby to the breast. Skin to skin contact will encourage successful breastfeeding which is the cornerstone to optimal nutrition in the first six months of your baby’s life.
For further information about skin to skin contact and/or breastfeeding, please contact our Midwifery team. We run very popular Antenatal Classes whereby these topics are discussed in detail. You can reach the Midwifery team by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone: 04 348 7140.