All about holding babies.
Before the world told us that our babies could self-soothe and that breast was not best – there were innate parenting practices that enriched the lives of mothers, fathers, partners, women, birthing humans, and babes for thousands of years. As doulas we are fortunate to have a front row seat to a gorgeous shift, though. Times are changing. And this is good for families.
Huffpost wrote in an article just this past year, “A new generation of parents-to-be seeks cultural connection, holistic health care and healing.” Reclamation of the sacredness and sanctity of postpartum is a significant piece of this transition back… back to what worked, and worked well.
In our doula collective, we love on incredibly diverse families – many who may not know that babies can’t self-soothe, and there are loads of options for feeding babe when “at breast” isn’t working well (options of which still include skin-to-skin, postpartum support, seeing a lactation specialist, herbal/Western medicine, and often still using expressed breast milk from mom or donor – and yes, our promise and commitment is to guide you through this).
So, we dedicate THIS POST fully to what you need to know about holding your baby – and more specifically, skin-to-skin contact with babe. Because it matters. For them and for you.
“Psychologists say there are five types of love languages, but to newborn babies, only one really registers: physical touch.”
– Dr. Susan Crowe, clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford School of Medicine
When mom and baby are together, everything is better. Really. Skin-to-skin, also known as “kangaroo care” from foundational research based on kangaroo’s in Australia, has proven to make a positive impact on the pair! Babies who experience skin-to-skin time with mom, a parent, or a caregiver do better than those who aren’t given the same chance. And moms do better too. Here is what we know –
- helps the uterus contract – which helps you birth your placenta initially, reduces bleeding… and, for weeks to come encourages the uterus to safely shrink back down into your pelvic bowl (belly binding can offer further support)
- decreases both maternal and paternal anxiety with a release in oxytocin known as the “love hormone”
- warms up both mother and babe regulating babes temperature and comforting both, and –
- results in less crying, higher pain tolerance, and lower rates of hypoglycemia according to science
Additionally, according to a 2016 study including 2177 women statistically significant positive outcomes also included skin-to-skin mother-baby dyads were more likely than women with standard contact to be breastfeeding at one to four months post birth. Skin-to-skin mother-baby dyads tended to breastfeed their infants longer as well.
Beyond the statistics though are real life testimonials of families who have seen what skin-to-skin contact can do for their transition into postpartum, new and new-again motherhood. We hear them over and over again. From our vaginal birth clients. From our surgical birth clients (skin-to-skin is still necessary and possible in most experiences of surgical birth). From our NICU/preemie families. And from our loss families.
- When mom is able, skin-to-skin contact can begin with her immediately after giving birth
- For skin-to-skin contact, parents should be seated or reclined comfortably in a quiet, dimly lit room in a safe space with privacy – we suggest “recreating the womb environment” to our families
- Before feeds, skin-to-skin is best with mom since it impacts milk supply
- After feeds, babe or babies can be placed on the bare chest of the birthing person, partner, or grandparent
- A minimum of 20 minutes is a great start; and studies show at least 60+ minutes a day is best for all (you cannot hold your baby too much)
Bonus tip – if you are too tired to hold your baby, ask for help. While we want you to experience this life-giving practice, you and babe’s safety come first.
Do you have questions about skin-to-skin? Parenting practices? How to best prepare for life post-birth?
We are here with you and for you. Reach out and one of our incredible postpartum team members will walk you through how we can make this your best and most restorative season yet!
Your Cherry Blossom Doulas
Hi! I’m Alyssa Leon. I lead Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC – an inclusive birth + postpartum doula team in Arizona; and mentor doulas in Arizona and beyond.