A worrying amount of new parents and babies aren’t getting enough skin to skin time. This is a simple technique wherein baby is held against your bare chest for a prolonged period of time. Both parent and newborn benefit from this closeness, yet after leaving the hospital skin to skin contact decreases and can have a knock-on effect on parent and baby’s wellbeing.
The reason new parents are not routinely having skin to skin time with their newborn is that they’re not aware of its importance or significance. So, My Baba have teamed up with WaterWipes to raise awareness about this simple technique and how it can, not only improve your relationship with your newborn, but benefit the whole family tremendously.
As part of their #PureLove campaign, WaterWipes are taking to YouTube and social media to provide new mums with the advice they don’t feel they’re sufficiently being given on the labour wards. #PureLove encapsulates the love you can offer your child, which doesn’t cost anything more than a regular twenty minutes of skin to skin contact on your bare chest.
How can babies and parents benefit from skin to skin?
Post-natal depression is increasingly common in new mums, but skin to skin helps to combat this by building confidence in handling the baby and feeling less anxious about dropping or accidentally harming the newborn. If you’ve never breastfed before, this is another hurdle you may have to overcome with your newborn. Skin to skin encourages your body to produce more milk and baby to suckle better, which is due to release of the love hormone; oxytocin, during contact with your newborn.
As well as making breastfeeding easier for all involved, baby can reap other benefits from skin to skin. This important contact encourages baby’s brain to grow and mature, which increases confidence and emotional learning. Often, newborns will have to undergo tests and vaccinations which cause discomfort, but skin time with the parent increases baby’s pain threshold and reduces anxiety for both mother and baby.
Skin to skin makes nursing and feeding baby less stressful for parents and newborns. Baby is comforted by being held against mum or dad (yes — dad too). Skin to skin is a fantastic opportunity for father-baby bonding as the infant reaps the same benefits as with mother.
As part of the WaterWipes campaign, Dr. Susan Ludington, a renowned skin to skin expert, explains the remarkable effect the technique has. “We analysed the effects of skin to skin contact on a baby’s heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen level in his blood and his temperature. When swaddled, the baby did not calm down as much. But when on your chest, everything is stabilised, enabling him to calm down much faster,” she reported.
“With skin to skin, the two of you will synchronise your heart rates, temperate and you actually regulate each other’s biology,” she added. So, as you can tell, this skin to skin contact is beneficial in so many ways including bonding, confidence and its ability to help regulate body temperature.
What is the best way to practise skin to skin?
Midwife and expert blogger Jenny Lord has put together some top tips to ensure you make the most out of skin to skin time with your baby.
- Always practise skin to skin when baby is dry and warm. They will love being held against your bare chest.
- Although baby will be kept warm by your body temperature, feel free to place a light blanket over them too if necessary. Take care not to overheat them.
- Ensure that baby’s head, nose and mouth are visible at all times. Lord recommends making sure they’re ‘close enough to kiss’.
- Practice skin to skin as much as possible in the first six weeks after birth. Five sessions each week lasting between twenty minutes and two hours is sufficient.
- Never drink alcohol or smoke during this time. We don’t recommend ever doing this close to your newborn.
Want to learn more about WaterWipes #PureLove campaign? Search the hashtag or watch the videos from new parents trying out the skin to skin technique here.