The feeling of skin-to-skin contact with your newborn is unforgettable. After hours of labour, having Baby placed on your chest is quite a reward. However, aside from that overwhelming sensation of love that fills you, skin-to-skin (or kangaroo care) also provides many other benefits, from the physical to the psychological for both Baby and Mom.
In the delivery room Being placed on Mom’s chest immediately after delivery can work wonders for Baby’s entry into the world.
For example, skin-to-skin:
• can help stabilize Baby’s heart rate
• assists in regulating Baby’s breathing
• can help to improve oxygen levels
• improves vital signs
• helps to maintain body temperature
• maintains blood sugar levels
According to studies, human touch reduces the level of stress hormones, leaving us more calm and relaxed (for Baby and Mom!).
Dr. Christine Chambers says, “Skin-to-skin promotes greater physiological stability. Touch stimulates tactile nerve endings in the skin, which leads to a release of endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin, often referred to as ‘love hormones’, which produce pleasant sensations and feelings. Skin-to-skin also promotes better breastfeeding. So all of this works together to improve baby outcomes, including weight gain.”
According to the International Breastfeeding Centre, a baby who has experienced an hour of skin-to-skin contact after birth is more likely to latch on to the breast and maintain that latch.
Babies aren’t the only ones who benefit from a little skin-to-skin. According to La Leche League Canada, “Skin-to-skin will help Mom learn her baby’s cues. It will also increase the level of prolactin produced. Prolactin is a hormone responsible for helping the body to
Studies have shown that skin-to-skin can also reduce the risks of post-partum depression. Snuggling your newborn stimulates hormones that reinforce mothering behaviours.
The first hour after delivery is often referred to as “The Golden Hour” and it is the best opportunity for Mom and Baby to create a special bond by experiencing skin-to-skin and forming a chemical connection between each other.
Isn’t this what we all want? Skin-to-skin contact everyday (in the weeks following delivery) will leave Mom with a quieter house!
You’ve heard of a birth plan, right? It’s a list of how you envision your labour and birth to unfold. Well, now’s the time to make a Hug Plan.
Sit down and make your decisions. For example, when do you want to hug (before or after the cord is cut)? And how long do you want to provide skin-to-skin contact (one hour or more)?
Fill out your Hug Plan, share it with your doctor or midwife, and pop a copy in your hospital bag.