Advice from a Lactation Consultant, Part 3: The Skinny on Skin to Skin Contact
More advice from our friendly lactation consultant, Beth Meeker BSN, RNC, IBCLC.
What’s the deal with skin to skin contact between parents and newborns?
At Beaumont Family Birth Centers, we encourage our families to practice “Kangaroo Care” immediately after delivery and throughout your hospital stay. Kangaroo Care is also called skin-to-skin care. This method of bonding helps your baby stay less stressed, stay warmer and breastfeed better.
Your bare chest is the most natural place a baby should be during the first few days of life. Generally in the first few days, we recommend holding your baby against your chest, as baby is diapered and wearing a hat, then place a loose blanket over both of you. Typically skin-to-skin time is about an hour of quiet bonding, or 30 minutes prior a feeding session. Sleeping with baby in this position is not recommended. If you become sleepy move baby to crib/bassinette for safe sleep.
There are many benefits!
Staff will encourage skin-to-skin time if baby has a low temperature, is having difficulty feedings, seems fussy, or during screening procedures like blood work or hearing tests, and to provide re-warming after the first bath. Skin-to-skin helps baby to regulate his/her temperature by absorbing warmth from the holding parent so that both bodies reach same 98.6 F temperature. It can help with breastfeeding by keeping the maternal hormonal scent familiar to baby, allows positive quiet time with mom, and increases mom’s breastfeeding hormones. Mom may leak some drops of colostrum while holding baby, which baby may smell and wake triggering hunger cues. If a baby is fussy with gassy belly or is upset by procedures/tests being performed, skin-to-skin calms a baby with warmth, security, and a safe familiar place.
Both parents can spend quality skin-to-skin time with the new baby. Add it to your birth plans, plan to use it often the first month or so.
More good info like this to come! As always, if you have specific questions about you or your baby, please contact your provider.