The first moments of becoming a mom is so unbelievably overwhelming. You’re suddenly responsible for a new human life. Regardless of how tiny they are, it is now your job to protect them and keep them safe. Talk about pressure! It’s a life-changing situation, in all sense of the word, and it can be hard to take it all in. As an adult (yes, you’re an adult!), you have so much to learn, and as the newborn baby, they have so many vulnerabilities. There are so many benefits of skin-to-skin positions that can make the early days of being a new mom so comforting and calm. Let’s dive into the wonderful world of skin-to-skin care for babies and what it does for you and for your baby.
The Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Time
Practicing skin-to-skin positions with a baby can be so rewarding, both for the parent and for the baby. It’s the practice of spending time together with the baby's bare skin. I mean, can you think of anything more blissful than that? Sure, maybe if you were doing it while lying on a beach in the Maldives! But seriously, you’ve just carried her around in your tummy for three quarters of a year and then she is suddenly here. A real human being. In your arms. Surrounded by nothing but the deepest sense of love and gratitude - and maybe a bit of worry that you have no idea what you’re doing! Relax - you’ll get the hang of it.
There are so many reasons why holding your baby directly on your bare skin (known as skin-to-skin) is a wonderful thing to do. Here are some of the key reasons why you should consider skin-to-skin cuddles:
- Helps to calm baby when she’s hungry1
- It can help settle and soothe her when she’s upset1
- It’s an opportunity to bond and connect with your new baby2
- Baby is kept warm by your natural body heat1
- Baby feels safe and protected1
- Stimulates oxytocin (the feel good hormone!)1
- Boosts milk supply (which is super helpful if you’re breastfeeding)1
- Regulates baby’s body temperature and heartbeat1
- It’s beautiful, fun and comforting for mom
If those aren’t enough reasons to want to snuggle up with your baby, then you can always use skin-to-skin time as an excuse to sit down, relax and watch some Netflix!
There are a few different ways to practice skin-to-skin with your baby so try them and see what feels most comfortable for you and her.
Vertical Chest Hold (Vertical Kangaroo)
This is the classic skin-to-skin hold. Sitting upright with your shirt unbuttoned or off, hold your baby vertically on your chest, skin-to-skin, with her chest on your chest.1 Make sure her head is facing to the side so that her airways aren’t blocked. She should be upright and held comfortably snug to your body. Cover her with a blanket or your shirt if you have it unbuttoned to keep her back cozy and warm.
Supported Diagonal Flexion Position (Diagonal Kangaroo)
This position is great if you want to have eye contact with your baby while you have skin-to-skin. It’s similar to the vertical hold except this time your baby is placed slightly diagonal across your chest and her head is above your breast and she is facing you.1 To make sure that baby is snug and won’t slip, and that you are comfortable, you can use a baby wrap to keep her in position on your chest or wrap your shirt around her to keep her in place. Again, put a blanket over baby too to make sure she stays nice and warm.
(This is an amazing position if you want to be able to interact with her and see her adorable face while you cuddle.)
This method is very relaxing but you need to make sure you won’t fall asleep which, trust me, is hard to do as a new mom! Lie down with your shirt unbuttoned or off and place baby on your chest with her chest facing yours. Because you’re lying down, make sure that baby is securely held and won’t roll or slip off. Always have her face turned sideways so her mouth and nose aren’t covered or facing your body.
One more thing...
One thing I wanted to add is to remember that after having a baby, your skin can go through some drastic changes due to changing hormone levels. If you find yourself with dry or itchy postpartum skin – and you don’t want your baby to recoil from your motherly scales - make sure to apply some Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion to soothe and heal your dry skin. And not to worry – it’s completely safe for babies so it won’t irritate her delicate skin. It’s non-scented so baby will still be able to smell your familiar smell and feel comforted.
Keep those cuddles and snuggles going for as long as you can and grow that everlasting bond between a mother and her child. And if you ever need a break, know that baby will love skin-to-skin with Daddy just as much so feel free to pass the responsibility on to him and take some time for yourself without feeling guilty! And trust me, Daddy will love it just as much as you do!