M.Ed., RD, LDN, CLC
Andie is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Lactation Consultant, and Certified Personal Trainer who thinks of nutrition counseling as equal parts science and sensitivity. She specializes in lactation, sports nutrition, exercise fitness, and weight loss programs.
Moments after birth your new babe is wiped off and put into
your arms. Did you know that this is also an important part of the
breastfeeding process? Skin to skin contact is when your naked baby (diaper and head cap only) is placed directly
on your bare chest. A blanket covering your baby and you is then placed on top,
to keep you both warm. This important first connection is a special time when
your baby is first meeting his family. Skin to skin contact promotes bonding
between you and your baby, helps lower your baby’s stress levels and is an
important first step in your breastfeeding journey.
Evidence shows that babies who have early skin to skin
contact, keeping mother and baby together during and after birth, promotes
greater breastfeeding outcomes. Babies are born with the instinct to be placed
in this position and perform the “breast crawl” to move down to the breast to
breastfeed for the first time. It is during this time that your baby’s
breastfeeding reflexes come alive; some of which include familiarization with the
nipple and breast as well as suckling.
The research also shows that even babies who are born
prematurely are more metabolically stable and breathe better if they are skin
to skin immediately after birth, if the baby is medically able. The same is
true for post cesarean births. Skin to skin contact can begin in the operating
room when mom is alert and responsive. It is important that mom be alert and
have someone else in the room who is available should any emergency arise.
Skin to skin contact during the weeks and months postpartum,
can last as long as mom and baby are comfortable. It stimulates the let down
process in breastfeeding and continues the bonding process. Partners can also
partake in the skin to skin process to promote bonding and the feeling of
comfort and safety between them and your baby. Non breastfeeding moms can also
share in this wonderful experience and bond with baby, as well.
Make sure your birth plan includes
putting baby skin to skin immediately after birth. In most birth circumstances, even
c-sections, babies can be put skin to skin without any issue. . If mom is under
heavy anesthesia or sedation, you may
need to recover a bit before skin to skin, and/or be supervised while doing
skin to skin. Dad/partner/birthing coach can do skin to skin while mom is
Practice proper technique. Make sure mom and baby are truly chest to chest, with no
clothing or blanket between skin. A
diaper and head cap is fine for baby. Both can be covered with a blanket if the
room is cold. If baby is not attempting to breastfeed, make sure his head is
turned to the side. If baby is on mom, make sure he is between, not on, mom’s
If you’re sleepy, make sure that
someone is alert and supervising the interaction. In this cozy situation, it’s easy
to drift off to sleep, but for safety’s sake, make sure someone is supervising
you while you are doing skin to skin with your baby, especially if you are
under the influence of any sedatives.