The importance of skin-to-skin contact
Holding your baby, skin-to-skin, on your chest following the first hours after birth will really help you and baby calm, bond and recover from the birth.
The advantages of skin-to-skin contact for you and your newborn
- Baby is warmer and calmer.
- Baby can hear your heartbeat.
- Baby’s heart and breathing rates normalise more quickly.
- Your milk supply is boosted if you choose to breastfeed.
Most mums that give up breastfeeding in the first week do so because the baby has difficulty attaching. Skin contact following birth will do wonders to prevent this!
The "Magical Hour"
Skin contact after birth has an amazing effect on babies – it's often called the 'magical hour'. Your baby will show nine different behaviours as they get used to the outside world, memorise your touch and discover the instinct to suckle.
The first thing you will hear is a short birth cry as your baby's lungs expand, your baby will then hopefully feed from the breast (or bottle) before sleeping. It's worth remembering that any drugs you take during labour may make your baby extra sleepy, so the normal nine stage process may take a bit longer – although most babies feed within 90 minutes after birth. You can find out more about specific behaviours on the dedicated Magical Hour website.
The 9 stages and feeding
In this video you can see this 'magical hour' for yourself as a newborn wakes, shows signs they're hungry and attaches to their mum's breast for the first time.
If you're not breastfeeding, it's still important to give your baby their first bottle feed with skin-to-skin contact. The first feed is an incredibly close, bonding experience – however you choose to feed your baby.