The Essential Baby Stuff - Part 1 - Skin-to-Skin

When I hear that someone is about to have a baby there are two things that I really want to share with them.  Then the passive side of me holds me back because I am not one to get in someone's face and tell them how to do things.  I tend to share these techniques only when asked.  These techniques are seemingly not widely taught and yet I can't imagine having not been taught them.

The first is Kangaroo Care / Skin-to-Skin Contact (the second will be next week's post... stay tuned).  The birth class and hospital we used taught and endorsed this method.  I offer three (or ten) cheers to those hospitals and birth centers that teach parents about Skin-to-Skin.
After looking for resources to link to, I am realizing how obscure it is out there.  Much of the information I am finding is written for the medical world, not parents, making it even more important that I write this post.
Kangaroo Care is a method (I believe originally only used with babies who were born prematurely, but now is recommended for any newborn) where you put the infant skin to skin and front to front on mom's chest and cover the baby and mom with a blanket to keep them warm together but with nothing in between them.  As we know most hospitals instead take the baby, wrap it in a blanket and hand it to the mother.  Just a side note, I am pro-swaddling as a calming technique (which I will be posting about next week) but not when the baby has just been born.  Skin-to-skin has some incredible benefits that I think could each stand alone as amazing, but together are jaw-dropping.  Here are the ones I've heard or read about (not to be mistaken for real medical knowledge or advice):
  • Right after birth this is a great way to trigger a baby to breastfeed successfully.
  • It is great for mother and baby bonding (this can also be done with the other parent or close individual).
  • It can naturally regulate the baby's body temp - in fact I've heard the mother's body actually knows if it needs to bring the baby's body temp up or down and by how much- amazing.
    • Good to know if you deliver your baby in the car on the way to the hospital and need to keep it warm.
    • Also, good to know if you have an infant and your home loses power in the winter.
    • Sometimes giving a bath to a baby makes them too cold, I've used skin-to-skin to get their body feeling warmer again asap.
    • I also read somewhere (not sure where now) that if a mom is doing skin-to-skin with twins (simultaneously) that the mom's body can separately regulate both of their temperatures even if they have different needs for temperature regulation.
  • It can be used to regulate levels in the baby's system such as blood sugar and blood pressure.
  • You can use it to calm a crying baby, or to alert a sleepy baby if you want them to eat more (I've done both of those lots of times).
  • Skin-to-skin also lowers the stress level of the baby.
  • Specifically right after birth it can affect the mom's hormone levels in many beneficial ways.
Now can you see why I get so frustrated with these hospitals or birth centers that are not teaching people about this very simple and very vital method?!  Spread the word :-) PLEASE!

Here are some resources for more info:
Awesome video explaining Kangaroo Care with babies:

Now, if you can handle reading these stories below, here are two true stories of babies that were born extremely early and thought to be ones that couldn't make it, but did because their moms did Skin-to-Skin with them.  Get a few boxes of Kleenex ready...
Story #1Follow Up Story to #1 This original story I read when my second baby was an infant and the story had a huge impact on me.  It was one of those emotionally charged, postpartum moments for me that I will never forget.
Story #2

Please share this information with anyone you know who is going to have a baby soon.

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  1. I learned about kangaroo care from reading a NYT article soon after we brought #1 home from China, and tried it especially in the pede's office when she had to have a shot or something even mildly invasive. It wasn't as effective as we'd hoped -- she still fussed -- but I felt I was helping her soothe herself at least a little. Since she was already a year and a half, it might be that starting her with skin-to-skin earlier would have worked better. And both girls still go for the cuddle when they need soothing from school conflicts or having done something wrong or even anxiety about a new experience. As #2 says, when she is in between us, "Ahhhh...snuggled by parents!"

    1. Awwe... So glad you knew about it and used it as much as you could. I'm sure that it helped. Thanks for sharing.