Hi mamas! I’m Kristin Gourley, IBCLC. I’m a mom to 5 and lactation consultant with Lactation Link. I’m here today to talk about skin-to-skin contact and how to make it a part of your life with a new baby.
If you’ve taken our breastfeeding classes in-person or online, you may have noticed that we make a big deal about skin-to-skin time! In fact, I almost always tell moms to do lots of skin-to-skin time as part of their care plan when I see them for a personalized consult. Some moms feel like it might be time consuming or restrictive to normal life, so why do we recommend it? Well, it can be beneficial for breastfeeding! But what IS skin-to-skin time anyway?
What is skin-to-skin?
Skin-to-skin is just what it sounds like– keeping baby on you, with baby’s skin touching yours, usually with baby lying on your chest. This is important after birth because it can help to regulate baby’s temperature and heart rate, but also allow baby ample opportunity to latch on and learn to find comfort at the breast! (1,2)
It continues to be important even after those first few days because it still provides baby access to nurse as often as she’d like and provides a reason for mom to slow down and allow herself to heal from birth and frequent night wakings.
So, we know it’s important when baby is tiny, but it also has an effect for the entire time you are breastfeeding. One study found that women who practice frequent skin-to-skin contact are more likely to be exclusively breastfeeding when baby is 3 months old! (3)
Tips for skin-to-skin time at home
We’re confident it’s important, but nothing can be beneficial if we can’t fit it into our normal lives. If you’re wondering how to keep your naked-in-a-diaper baby on your bare chest without feeling like you need to make a dash for your closet if the doorbell rings, one of the answers is: use a robe or cardigan!
There are so many robes now that are made for new moms and aren’t big, fuzzy, or seem like they’d fit right in at a nursing home. You can use a pretty, silky robe or an on-trend tunic paired with comfy leggings! Simply open your robe or cardigan when you’re relaxing at home, dress down your baby to a diaper, and make yourself comfortable on the couch with baby resting on your bare chest while you watch Netflix, read a book, or take a nap.
But what if you have another child? You can’t just leave him to his own devices, eating cereal by the handful straight from the box every day while you rest on the couch! You can fit skin-to-skin time in with your new baby while still caring for your older baby by doing skin to skin in a wrap! Putting baby (just in a diaper) in a stretchy wrap or other baby carrier while you aren’t wearing a shirt. You can wear a cardigan or robe over this if you want. The wrap or carrier covers all your important bits so if you had an unexpected visitor, you’d just look like you were wearing a tank top under the wrap and baby. But you and baby will be getting the awesome benefits of skin-to-skin time, while staying covered and having your hands free!
It doesn’t have to be cumbersome or restrictive to have skin-to-skin time with your baby! After baby arrives, make sure you plan to have no plans so you have plenty of time for this important bonding. For more information about the benefits of skin-to-skin or how to fit it into your life, check out our classes!
Thanks for stopping by,
Kristin Gourley, BS, IBCLC
(1) Kimura, C. & Matstoka, M. (2007). Changes in breast skin temperature during the course of breastfeeding. Journal of Human Lactation 23(1), pp. 60-69.
(2) Ludington-Hoe, S., Anderson, G.C., Simpson, S., Hollingsead, A., Argote, A., Medellin, G., Rey, H. (2016). Skin-to-skin contact beginning in the delivery room for colombian mothers and their preterm infants. Journal of Human Lactation 9(4), pp. 241-2.
(3) Vila-Candel, R., Duke, K., Soriano-Vidal, J., Castro-Sanchez, E. (2017). Effect of early skin-to-skin mother-infant contact in the maintenance of exclusive breastfeeding. Journal of Human Lactation. Retrieved from journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0890334416676469.