The importance of skin-to-skin for both Mum and Baby
Skin to skin sounds like such a simple term and like so many things in nature they are simple , yet profound and perfectly organically organised for the evolution of our species! As new parents we want to "get it right" and the simple fact is that seemingly "doing nothing" with our baby resting skin to skin is much of what is needed for what is sometimes referred to as the fourth trimester.
What if there was a machine that could greet your baby after their first journey from inside the womb to the outside world, that could make that transition as gentle as possible, regulate your newborn’s temperature, heart rate, breathing and blood sugars?
A machine that could seed your baby's gut with EXACTLY the perfect bacteria to support and strengthen their immune system from birth into adulthood.
A machine that would, if you wanted to breastfeed, create the correct environment for that to happen easily and effortlessly; that would lead to a better latch and lead to exclusive breastfeeding.
A machine that can soothe your baby so they cry less and feel more secure, making their start in life the foundation for a healthier, happier, more secure human being.
What if this machine could give you feedback of when exactly your baby was hungry, and then stimulate that exact quantity of milk in your breast so you could feed your baby - not only the correct amount but the perfect concoction of molecules that would nourish your baby, with the perfect fit of what their body and mind needed to excel in health and wellbeing!
BREAKING NEWS!!!! That machine has been invented, and it is YOU!!!!
Above are some of the benefits of what is known as the Golden Hour, Kangaroo care, the undisturbed first hour or skin-to-skin contact.
Women's intuition is now being supported by research proving the benefits of skin-to-skin contact after a baby is born. If we put ourselves in Baby's position, they have just travelled out of your lovely warm womb, the perfect temperature into this new unfamiliar world.
They have been safe and cosy for months inside you, lulled by the beating of your heart and soothed by you and your partner's voice. How lovely would it be to have that continuity of temperature? Since your skin temperature is the same as the temperature in utero, this can be easily achieved through regular skin-to-skin contact.
So, how can you make this Golden Hour happen? Ask! Take some time to discuss with your partner how things are going to be as you welcome your baby into this world. This is their birth day! Would you like the lights low, would you like your baby to feel your partner's hands catch them and guide them to your chest, what's your dream scenario?
Does Baby need to be weighted immediately? Is their birth weight going to drop significantly if you wait two hours? Do they need to be washed? Absolutely not; in fact, there are well-researched benefits to NOT washing your baby for the first 72 hours! Take your time to just marvel at what you have done. Having birthed your baby, now lie back and just 'be'.
Your oxytocin levels are the highest they are ever going to be in your whole life for the moments just after your baby is born; it is the hormone of love, so why not just bask in it and allow yourselves to fall madly and deeply in love!
Deb Davis is a birth doula and GentleBirth instructor. She is passionate about empowering women to have the most positive birth possible, offering skilled help from the heart.
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