Skin-to-Skin Love for Your Newborn

We love educating women on the benefits of midwifery care. In pursuit of that goal, I encourage you to read this blog in our series from midwife (and guest blogger), Lincey Knox LM, CPM of Heartstrings Midwifery.

Those first few moments after the arrival of your new baby are so important for both mother and baby. This is true not just medically, but emotionally and physically as well. Skin to skin love is not something only the mother can provide – in fact, the bonding between baby and father through skin-to-skin care is also vitally important to the process. Through these first snuggles, a newborn learns the scent of mother and father, learns to feel safe, helps establish breastfeeding, aids in the newborn’s transition to living outside the womb, and keeps him- or herself warm.

A newborn survives off of its instincts and reflexes during the first few weeks of life. Its greatest senses are those of smell, touch, and hearing. With skin-to-skin contact a new baby is able to utilize these three senses as (s)he can smell mother’s scent, touch mother’s skin, and hear mother’s heartbeat – the same sound that has been lulling baby to sleep for the past nine months.

“There are now a multitude of studies that show that mothers and babies should be together, skin to skin immediately after birth, as well as later. The baby is happier, the baby’s temperature is more stable and more normal, the baby’s heart and breathing rates are more stable and more normal, and the baby’s blood sugar is more elevated.”

Immediate skin-to-skin contact between newborn and mother should be standard of care for all deliveries. Even in the situation where a cesarean delivery is necessary, many obstetricians are beginning to facilitate skin-to-skin between mother and baby in the operating room, as its importance is recognized more and more. Hopefully this practice will continue as more care providers recognize the bonds that are formed during these precious first moments.