While this of course has its benefits, the flipside is that it can really pile the pressure on parents to do everything ‘right’, even stuff that is totally out of their control.
‘Skin-to-skin’ contact (generally meaning when a naked baby is placed directly onto the bare chest of its mum or dad) is meant to be the number one priority as soon as our baby is born.
But as we all know, births don’t always go to plan and immediate skin-to-skin sometimes isn’t a possibility. For instance, you or your baby may have needed more immediate attention directly after birth.
first contact with your newborn
“I got to hold Devan for less than a minute after he was first born as he’d swallowed a lot of meconium and they wanted to do some tests,” says mum, Asha. “I struggled to breastfeed him at first and wondered if it was because we’d missed this important bonding moment, but I just tried to do skin-to-skin as much as possible in the weeks after his birth and can look back on it much more positively now.”
Skin-to-skin contact actually has huge benefits for babies (and parents) during the first weeks and even months of their life, so directly after birth definitely isn’t the only chance you have!
benefits of skin-to-skin
In the first few months after your baby’s birth, try to do skin-to-skin as much as possible, even for parents who managed it straight after birth, as according to the NHS, benefits include:
Regulating baby’s breathing, heart rate, oxygen levels and temperature
Helping with breastfeeding
Keeping the baby feeling warm and calm
Decreasing maternal breast engorgement (painful buildup of milk)
Decreasing the chance of postnatal depression.
A midwife suggested more skin-to-skin contact and after a few days I definitely felt we were a bit more in-tune with each other, and I had more patience and more success with feeding.
Skin-to-skin also builds parents’ confidence in looking after their baby - important, seeing as research shows that the amount of mums who feel confident about looking after their baby drops by nearly 10% in the first few days of bringing them home. For more information on the benefits of skin-to-skin, watch our dedicated film, here.
skin to skin contact helps dads and newborns too
“I used to struggle to bottle-feed Leah,” says Matt. “A midwife suggested more skin-to-skin contact and after a few days I definitely felt we were a bit more in-tune with each other, and I had more patience and more success with feeding.”
And if that’s not enough, research has found that skin-to-skin can boost brain development in babies, and is particularly important for premature babies, who may have spent a significant chunk of their early life in a medicalised environment.
So, all that’s left to do now is get down to some serious snuggling. And really, what could be better?