Skin to Skin with Your Newborn

What is skin to skin? Skin to skin is a practice where your newborn baby is placed unclothed, on their belly, directly onto your bare chest. Skin to skin started gaining recognition in the 1970’s and was originally used in the NICU for premature babies. This practice is now recognized today as being beneficial for any baby at birth regardless of being premature or not. Skin to skin can start immediately after birth and continue at home as well. There are many benefits for your newborn while doing skin to skin including:

· Regulating their body temperature

· Stabilizing their heart rate

· Stabilizing their breathing 

· Better bonding with parent

· Increased breastfeeding success 

· Increased weight gain

· Increased brain growth 

· Lower risk of infection

· Lower stress hormone levels

· Less crying

· Stabilizing their blood sugar

What is “The Golden Hour”?

The first hour after a baby is born is often referred to as “The Golden Hour,” and this is when the baby is laid directly onto the birthing parent’s bare chest, skin to skin. Skin to skin after your baby is born should be as long and uninterrupted as possible. This helps with all the things mentioned above, along with promoting breastfeeding and the ability to self-attach at the breast. Skin to skin also helps release the hormone oxytocin in the breastfeeding parent, which can help increase their milk volume. A newborn can smell the milk and will naturally be drawn to the chest to feed. Breastfeeding within the first few hours after birth allows your newborn to receive colostrum which is the first stage of breast milk. Colostrum is a yellow fluid also known as “liquid gold” and is highly concentrated with proteins, antibodies, and nutrients- all things that are very important for a new baby.

Pro tip: If you are wanting to do skin to skin once your baby is born, let your partner, doctors, and nurses know that it is part of your birth plan and wishes so everyone is on the same page to achieve this!

How can I practice skin to skin at home?

Skin to skin can be practiced after your baby’s birth and at home as well, it is never too late to start! When at home, first create a comfortable environment, remove clothing from your chest area, and remove clothing from your baby (a diaper is okay to wear). Then place your baby on your bare chest and cover yourselves with a blanket for warmth making sure to keep your baby’s head free from the blanket. Your baby may initiate feeding, or you can just relax and enjoy this bonding time. 

Pro tip: Get the whole family involved! Either parent, older siblings, or trusted caregivers can also provide valuable skin to skin time for your newborn.

How long should I do skin to skin?

It is recommended to aim for about 60 minutes of uninterrupted skin to skin time with your newborn each day. Skin to skin is recommended for the first 3 months for a full-term baby, and for 6 months for a premature baby, but you can continue for as long as you would like! 

Pro tip: If you can’t get 60 minutes of skin to skin in one sitting, break the time into smaller amounts! Try two times a day of 30 minutes per session or three times a day of 20 minutes per session and find what works best for you.

Skin to skin is highly recommended and is proven to be an incredibly beneficial practice that you can utilize with your newborn from their very first moments after being born, and throughout their first months of life.

 

For more pro tips, visit our learning center at learning.newborncaresolutions.com

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