If you have decided to feed your baby by bottle, you need to know that your bare chest is still the best place for your baby to adjust to life immediately after birth and for many months afterward. Skin to skin contact is the way that your baby makes a connection to you through the senses of touch and smell. This connection is made with you when you hold your baby’s exposed chest against your bare chest or tummy.
Research is showing us that babies who are held in this skin to skin contact with their mothers and fathers benefit because it increases connections in the baby’s developing brain. It is believed that this skin to skin contact improves a baby’s ability to self-calm and to decrease the effect of stress. This is the beginning of self-regulation and it is an important part of a baby’s future mental health.
The first hours of snuggling skin-to-skin help you and your baby bond and get to know each other. Hold your baby belly-down on your chest or tummy soon after birth. Keep cuddling skin-to-skin as often as possible in the months after birth. Skin-to-skin contact with mothers and fathers is also better for babies born prematurely or by Caesarean birth.
It is never too late to start skin to skin contact with your baby.
Here is how skin to skin contact helps:
- Cry less and are more able to cope with stress
- Stay warmer
- Enjoy more comfort from you
- Cope better to life outside the womb
- Are protected by some of your good bacteria
- Tend to respond to their babies even more positively because of hormone changes
- Learn when their babies are hungry
- Feel connected and protective of their babies
- Gain confidence and satisfaction caring for a new baby
If you want to get started at skin to skin contact, here is what you do:
Hold your baby with just his/her diaper on
Take off your clothing above the waist, to expose your chest
Place your baby on chest
You can cover the two of you with a blanket as needed and enjoy the closeness with each other.
For safe sleeping, babies under six months old should be placed on their back in a crib or cradle in your room. It is important that cribs and cradles meet current Canadian safety regulations.
Family and skin-to-skin:
Your family members can also spend skin-to-skin time with your baby. If you have a partner, plan skin-to-skin time together with your baby. It's a great way for you and your partner to spend time together and bond with your baby.
For more information on parenting and services in Simcoe Muskoka, please contact your health care provider or contact Health Connection by calling 1-705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by email or connect with us wherever you are on Facebook or Twitter.