We're on the home stretch in our "11 Ways to Prepare for Your Best Birth" series and only have 2 left!
#10 Keep mother and baby together, with lots of skin-to-skin – it’s best for mother, baby, and breastfeeding
To clarify the title of today's post: Think of the mother and baby as one unit in the first 3 months of baby's life; we call it the "mother-baby dyad". They need almost all the same things in the postpartum period -- lots of snuggling, nourishment, rest, support, love.
I previously wrote a blog post on this topic after attending an all-day class with renowned perinatal neuroscientist and neonatologist Nils Bergman, so will refer you to it here: Snuggle with Your Baby: Benefits of Skin-to-Skin. The focus of that post was mostly about the benefits to the baby of skin-to-skin (aka "kangaroo care").
I want to also detail a few benefits of this closeness for the mom (or non-postpartum/breastfeeding parent or family member, for select bullets):
Helps parent to bond and connect with baby
Helps parent get to know and understand their unique baby and baby's more subtle signs in an acute and helpful way
The closer baby can stay to breastfeeding mom, the more restful it is and therefore the more conducive to healing from giving birth
Thanks to oxytocin (the "love" hormone) produced by skin-to-skin and, in even greater amounts, through breastfeeding helps mom feel happier and more relaxed, thereby reducing the chance of suffering from postpartum depression
The oxytocin is also helping your uterus heal, helping shrink your uterus (called "involution") toward its pre-pregnant size each time you feed your baby in the first few weeks
The more mom can hold your baby skin-to-skin, the more frequently baby will tend to breastfeed, which bodes well for a healthy milk supply
I want to acknowledge that there are instances in which mom is not available to hold baby skin-to-skin, and absolutely it's still helpful from a physiological perspective for dad, partner, or another family member or friend to hold baby skin-to-skin. So boost those endorphins and have fun snuggling away on your sweet baby!
Snuggle with Your Baby: Benefits of Skin-to-Skin (Birth Matters NYC)
7 Reasons To Be Skin-To-Skin With Your Baby After Birth (Mommypotamus)
Skin-To-Skin Care After Birth: A Practical Guide (Mommypotamus)