The Importance of Skin to Skin after Birth


There is significant evidence that newborns who receive skin to skin contact with their mothers immediately after birth have an easier transition. Skin to skin often called kangaroo care is when babies are held naked against their mother’s skin for a minimum of 1 to 2 hours after birth. Midwives would argue skin to skin contact is beneficial several hours a day for a least 2 weeks. There are many reasons to implement kangaroo care. Babies have great respiratory, temperature and glucose stability in addition to decreased stress. Skin to skin transfers biomes from mother to baby. These biomes protect the baby for life. After the umbilical cord has stopped pulsating and been cut, Dads can provide skin to skin contact until the mother is ready to breastfeed. Once breastfeeding babies lay naked or diapered between the mother’s breast. Initially, babies may play with the breast until ready to latch. Ideally, newborns breastfeed within the first hour after birth. Breast milk is made by your body specifically for your baby. Along with nutrition, breastmilk contains antibodies that protect your baby from illness. Babies tend to cry less, leading to less parental stress and anxiety. When the baby passes through the birth canal, the baby’s gut is colonized with bacteria from the mother’s vaginal. Skin to skin continues to expose the baby to the mother’s bacteria and microbes. This early exposure helps babies develop their own healthy bacteria. Exposure to microbes is associated with protection of inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. While mothers benefit from this practice by keeping the uterus firm which can decrease bleeding. Skin to skin also increases breastfeeding success and decreases postpartum depression. Studies suggest that benefits for babies can persist for years. Skin to skin improves maternal attachment behavior, reduced maternal anxiety, enhances child cognitive development and increases successful breastfeeding. Once this time is over you can’t get it back, so stay in bed, snuggle up and love your babe. Diapers are okay, and a blanket can be used for warmth.

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