There has been so much recent information about child brain development and holding your baby. It starts at birth and holding your baby skin-to-skin helps. It’s simple and necessary.
You have delivered your baby and now you plan to breastfeed. What should happen immediately after birth? Place your newborn on its tummy on your bare chest (you are not wearing a bra or shirt).
This is called skin-to-skin. The behaviors you will see are crawling, rooting, and sucking as the infant searches for the breast.
Skin-to-skin contact has so many benefits. It provides the infant with a sense of love from the mother’s presence, warmth from her body temperature and milk from her breasts.
When a mother breastfeeds, the hormone oxytocin is released which stimulates a “mothering feeling” in mom and influences a mother’s mood.
She will be calmer, and bond better with her baby, and in return her baby is calmer as well.
When your baby is held skin-to-skin, all five of his/her senses are used immediately. The infant’s strongest sense is smell; he/she smells their mother and her mother’s breast milk.
Her sense of touch involves hand and mouth contact to the breast and nipple. Her sense of hearing your voice, heartbeat and breathing while lying on your chest will relax them.
Your baby may also use her sight by making eye contact with you. He or she will taste her first food, colostrum, from your breasts and will aid in removing the first stool, meconium.
When your baby is skin-to-skin, watch for feeding cues. With skin-to-skin, a healthy newborn can take an hour to nurse. Medication received during labor could also affect how long it takes. Don’t panic if the baby does not nurse right away.
By keeping your baby in your hospital room, doing lots of skin-to-skin and asking the nurses for help, your baby will learn to nurse. Remember, if you have a c-section (cesarean birth), you can and should do skin-to-skin when it is medically safe for both mom and baby.
Article written by Dalvery Blackwell, Executive Director/Co-Founder of the African American Breastfeeding Network; AND Dinah Scott, RN and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) at the Aurora Sinai Medical Center.