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Skin-to-skin contact … A great place to start.

skintoskin-kimmackayAt the local hospital where I work, we are trying to implement skin-to-skin contact for all mothers and babies after a caesarean birth. Initially, while in the operating theatres, mothers do get contact with their child after they are born, but it is only for a very limited time after the baby has had its observations done by a paedatrician.

Once the obstetrician begins to close, the partner of the mother and the baby are taken away back to the mother’s room in Maternity, and the mother might not see their child again for another 30 minutes or longer, depending on how she recovers in the Post Anaesthetic Care Unit.

This is not due to the hospital staff being heartless, this is due to us not having enough staffing in the birthing suits and maternity to spare a midwife, and not having enough staff in the Post Anaesthetic Care Unit and also having these staff under-educated in midwifery.

This blog isn’t about me going on a man hunt, I just wanted to give a bit of background as to why I am moving away from my usual blogs about mental health issues and writing about skin-to-skin contact after birth.

Sitting here and closing my eyes thinking of where to begin, I get these warm fuzzy feelings remembering back to when I first had skin-to-skin contact with my 2 beautiful babies. I felt the warmth of their skin against my own and knew that they knew exactly who I was by my heartbeat and they were comforted by the sound of it.

Within the first 30 minutes of life, placing your baby on your bare chest so they can hear your heat beat and feel your breath while they smell, touch, and get to know you will start to create that special bond between mother and baby. Continuing to cuddle, skin-to-skin, as often as possible in the months after birth will help with growth and development.

Skin-to-skin has so many more benefits other than your baby getting to know you:

  • It helps calm and relax both mother and baby
  • It regulates the breathing and the heart rate of the baby
  • It stimulates the baby’s digestion
  • It regulates the baby’s temperature
  • It helps protect the baby from infection as the baby’s skin is colonised with the mothers healthy bacteria
  • It stimulates feeding behaviour
  • It stimulates and releases the hormones to help support breastfeeding and mothering
  • It helps preterm babies maintain their temperature, fight infection, grow, and develop

Skin-to-skin is also very easy to do! You simply:

  1. Undress your baby, leaving their nappy on if you wish
  2. Remove clothing from your own chest and tummy
  3. Hold your baby facing you against your chest and tummy
  4. Put a blanket (thickness may vary depending on the season) over your baby for warmth
  5. And enjoy that special closeness and bonding between you and your baby.

Suggested times for skin-to-skin are:

  • Before, during, or after feeding
  • While relaxing
  • After a bath

But ultimately, it’s about finding what works for you.

We also must remember skin-to-skin is not just for the mother. Partners are also encouraged to spend time getting skin-to-skin contact with their baby too.

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