What is meant by “skin-to-skin”?
As soon as the baby is delivered, the general practice is to wrap the baby in a blanket and place it on the mother’s chest. There are believed to be a ton of benefits from this skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the baby. This is the first chance where they both get the chance to know one another physically. It is also believed to start the breast milk flow in new mothers.
In case if you had a surgery where the skin-to-skin isn’t possible, your spouse or your partner can initiate it for you. This also has a calming effect on the baby as well as the mother by regulating their heart rates and breathing. It also helps them to regulate their body temperature once they are outside of the womb.
One of the major benefits of skin-to-skin contact is the very first experience of breastfeeding. Most babies will get the chance to have their first breastfeeding experience during this moment. Both the mother and the child will have an easier time adjusting to the subsequent breastfeeding experience once they give their first try during their first hour after birth. The baby might even be able to find the breast and learn to latch on to it. The mother will be familiarized with the smell and feel of the baby. Holding the baby will give an emotional sensation to the mother which will trigger the flow of milk as well.
A smooth transition
Right after your baby is delivered they enter a new environment which might be surprising to them. Holding them close to your body will maintain their body temperature and help them to stay the same temperature as in the womb. It is also shown that you can regulate your child’s breathing by skin-to-skin contact. This can reduce their anxiety and cause them to cry less.
Holding your baby skin-to-skin increases the release of oxytocin in your body. This has several short term and long term benefits for you. More skin-to-skin contact, the child learns to trust the mothers and feel safe with them. The mothers will have lesser chances of postpartum depression. The bond between the mother and child becomes stronger.
Skin-to-skin beyond the delivery room
You can continue breastfeeding skin-to-skin even after leaving the hospital and at your home. Your child will likely feel relaxed and soothed on your chest when you hold them. Use a blanket to keep them warm. This way of holding your baby is also believed to increase the rate of brain development in your child. There are a ton of positive effects of maintaining skin-to-skin contact.