Skin to skin
Breastfeeding also encourages skin to skin interaction between parent and child and all babies need a period of skin to skin cuddling after the birth to adjust to the outside world. This should last at least until after the first feed (however you decide to feed your baby) but for at least an hour. If this isn’t possible immediately or is interrupted, then start and maintain skin to skin as soon as possible.
All mothers will be encouraged to offer the first feed in skin contact when the baby shows signs of readiness to feed. For those mothers who go on to bottle feed, skin contact remains an important way to support the bonding process and therefore offering the first feed in skin contact is encouraged.
Skin to skin contact has been shown to provide the following benefits:
- Calms and relaxes both mother and baby
- Regulates heart rate and breathing in the baby
- Stimulates digestion
- Regulates temperature
- Enables colonisation of baby’s skin with mother’s friendly bacteria, thus providing protection against infection
- Stimulates feeding behaviour
- Stimulates the release of hormones to support breastfeeding and mothering.
After birth, babies who are placed skin to skin on their mother's chest will let out a very distinctive birth cry and then enter a stage of relaxation, recovering from the birth. They will then start to wake and begin to move a little, as these movements increase they will actually start to crawl towards and familiarise itself with the breast.
The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for all mothers and babies. We were accredited for the second time in October 2016, since originally achieving Baby Friendly Initiative status in 2013. Women who choose to have their babies here can look forward to continued high standards of care and a positive environment in which to feed and bond with their babies.
Skin to skin for fathers
Skin to skin contact is also a great thing for dads to do. It has all of the same benefits for the baby as skin to skin with the mother but it's also a great way for dads to begin to build that special bond with their baby.