Skin-to-skin contact is the process of sitting quietly with your baby pressed directly against your bare chest. Baby should be naked (except for a diaper, let’s not be crazy!).
In this position, baby can hear your heartbeat, breathing and blood flow. Essentially, you’re recreating the womb experience as much as you possibly can. You don’t need any equipment for this.
Over the last six or eight years, delivery rooms all over have insisted moms spend time with their baby skin-to-skin immediately after delivery. This is an excellent way to calm baby after birth and begin the breastfeeding process.
Here are the big benefits of skin-to-skin contact.
1. Skin-to-skin supports self-regulation – Self-regulation is a process we all do subconsciously to manage our internal systems. This includes things like oxygenation, organ function, and controlling one’s emotions. Regular skin-to-skin contact helps your baby take cues from the caregiver.
2. Skin-to-skin manages body temperature – Babies lose heat pretty quickly, but they can also easily overheat. Staying close to mom or dad helps them heat up and cool down faster when they need.
3. Skin-to-skin helps baby sleep – Just like you and I, relaxation supports sleep. A baby who spends a lot of time pressed against mom or dad is relaxed, calm, and drifts easily off to sleep. By constantly putting them in this unstressed position, they learn that sleep is not something to fear.
4. Skin-to-skin reduces crying – If you’ve ever held a baby close to your chest, you know it’s a great way to calm them down when they’re crying. They feel the pressure and sense your heartbeat, which reminds them off the womb, and that’s with clothing in between. When you touch their skin directly to yours, the effect feels identical to life inside mom’s tummy.
5. Skin-to-skin supports brain development – Like anyone else, infants have finite brain resources. If they’re spending all of their energy coping with their environment (suppressing fear, maintaining temperature, etc.), they don’t spend that energy soaking in sensations and learning. Skin-to-skin gives them that opportunity.
6. Skin-to-skin helps moms postpartum – When baby and mom’s skin touch, pleasure hormones are released in both bodies. These hormones help mom bond with baby and form a loving a connection, which is an excellent way to ward off the post-delivery blues.
7. Skin-to-skin is excellent for premature babies – Preemies have problems with temperature control and self-regulation, which makes skin-to-skin an excellent practice for them. Doctors of premature babies will often instruct parents to spend time with their baby skin-to-skin every day.
Have you ever tried skin-to-skin? What was your experience?
Written by Karen Barski, BSN, RN, Mother of five, Certified Infant Care Specialist & Instructor, & Inventor of the Woombie Baby Swaddle
Karen has been an RN for 18 years, and has worked in many different nursing roles. As a Certified Infant Care Specialist, Karen counsels thousands of families yearly on a multitude of issues relating to pregnancy and infancy. Also, as a mother of five, she has invaluable experience and tips to share.
Since 2007, Karen’s company, KB Designs, has invented a line of signature baby swaddle products that have helped parents easily transition their new babies from womb to home. There are multiple designs and sizes so that babies can enjoy the comfort and security of the Woombie up until the time they begin to roll.
Each product has been created and designed by Karen because of a need she identified in her life with her five children. With convenience, safety, and fashion in mind, KB Designs has helped over a half million babies and counting!
For more information, visit www.woombie.com.
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