Skin-to-skin contact with the baby at birth: a must for his well-being.
Skin-to-skin is highly recommended within the first two hours following delivery. It is also advisable to do it regularly during the baby’s first two weeks.
What is skin-to-skin contact?
Skin-to-skin contact consists in placing the naked newborn on one of the parents’ naked chest or belly from his very first moment of life. As our pediatrician said, it’s up to the mom to do the skin-to-skin contact during the first moments of her baby’s life, especially because her body temperature is ideal but also because she is capable of increasing it naturally by 1°C if her baby is cold. Of course, this won’t prevent the father from doing skin-to-skin contact with his child afterwards.
This practice has many other benefits for the baby: it will reduce his stress hormones and increase his well-being hormones and also allow him to receive good bacteria from the mother’s skin which help protect the baby from infections. In fact, it is recommended not to bathe the newborn on the first day and even during the following days. The white coating that recovers the baby at birth is called vernix caseosa: it naturally hydrates his skin. Skin-to-skin contact also facilitates the baby’s breastfeeding, sleep and the stabilization of his sleep-wake cycle.
But skin-to-skin contact also has benefits for the parents. Indeed, it soothes them by reducing their stress hormones. Parents become aware of the importance of the moment and start really relaxing. Finally, it will reinforce their parenting skills and intensify the bonding with their baby.
Skin-to-skin contact can last up to two hours – so you got to take your time.
All practices like nose and mouth aspirations, shortening the cord or the first checks like weighing have no interest in the first two hours following delivery if the newborn is in good health. Thus, in general, the privileged moment of an immediate and without interruption skin-to-skin contact is recommended.