May 13 is Mother's Day and to celebrate, Giving Birth with Confidence will post throughout the month of May on "The Wonder of Mothers," a series dedicated to sharing some of the many ways mothers' bodies are beautifully designed to grow, birth, and nourish her baby. We'll also be giving away a Lamaze stroller and infant car seat, so be sure to check back regularly!
The Wonder of Mothers: Skin-to-Skin Care
Skin-to-skin or "kangaroo" care is when a newborn baby is placed unclothed on mother's chest directly after birth and as often as possible during the newborn stage. This kind of care has been proven to have many health benefits for healthy full-term babies, as well as quicker recovery from illness and difficulties for premature and sick babies.
So what is it about a mother's body that makes skin-to-skin care so important? Because of the unique symbiosis between a mother and her baby, a mother's body is designed to provide the perfect environment for her newborn baby. When a baby is placed on her mother's chest, the temperature of mom's body not only keeps baby warm, but helps regulate a baby's temperature to what he/she needs at that very moment. Some babies are born with the inability to regulate their own temperature. Studies have shown that skin-to-skin care is best for keeping a baby's ideal temperature. It is often reported that artificial heat from an incubator cannot replicate the effects of mom's touch. It also has been shown that the temperature for twins who are each placed on one of mom's breasts are regulated independently, adjusting according to their individual needs!
Beyond temperature, skin-to-skin care has been shown to also provide newborn benefits in the way of regulating blood sugar levels, stabilizing heart rate, reducing crying, increasing mother-baby bonding, and establishing and maintaining breastfeeding. Mothers' bodies are amazing!
Requesting Skin-to-Skin Care at a Hospital
If you are planning a hospital birth, know that many hospitals routinely perform infant procedures shortly after birth. If your baby is healthy, it is safe and encouraged to delay newborn procedures like weight and measurements, bathing, and any routine shots or ointments. Instead, use the first couple of hours after birth to spend skin-to-skin time with your baby. Talk to your care provider, your birth partner, and your doula about your preferences to hold your baby skin-to-skin after birth. And, ask your partner or doula to remind the nurses on staff during your labor of your birth preferences. You may need to speak up to get what you want, but remember, it's your baby and your right!
Did you practice skin-to-skin care with your newborn? How do you think it helped you or your baby?