Why Grandparents Need to Know about Skin-to-Skin Contact After Birth
BY DEEDEE MOORE
Do you remember when your baby was born? The doctor or midwife announced the arrival and gave you a quick peek before the baby was whisked away to be cleaned up, weighed, measured, and assessed. After an hour or so, a sweet little bundle in a knit hat was placed in your arms, and you got to properly meet your baby.
“In many hospitals, they give newborns a chance to acclimate to life outside the womb with a period of skin-to-skin contact with their mother and the father.”
Today, medical professionals are recognizing that the first hour after birth is an important time for mother and baby to bond. In many hospitals, they give newborns a chance to acclimate to life outside the womb with a period of skin-to-skin contact with their mother and father.
You’ll be glad to know the little knit cap is still in the picture! Babies are dried off and placed on their mother’s bare chest, wearing only the cap. A blanket is draped over them, and mother and baby spend up to an hour or more simply enjoying each other.
This intimate time of relaxation is about more than bonding: it has immediate effects on the baby’s physical, emotional, and social development. What’s more, this period of skin-to-skin contact improves the outcome for both mother and baby.
Benefits of Skin-to-skin Following Birth
Studies have shown that skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth helps mothers by increasing oxytocin, resulting in lower blood pressure, a quicker return to pre-pregnancy hormone levels, and a lower incidence of post-partum depression. It can reduce post-partum bleeding, increase breastmilk production and improve breastfeeding outcomes.
For babies, the list of benefits is even longer.
Skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth has been shown to improve babies’ ability to absorb and digest nutrients and maintain their body temperature. Their heartbeat and breathing are more stable, and they have higher blood oxygen levels. These babies are more successful at breastfeeding immediately after birth and demonstrate improved weight gain. They spend more time in the crucial deep sleep and quiet alert states and even cry less often.
Surprisingly, skin-to-skin contact has even been linked to stronger immune systems.
There are also long-term benefits of skin-to-skin contact, such as improved brain development and function and better parent attachment. Surprisingly, skin-to-skin contact has even been linked to stronger immune systems.
So why do grandparents need to know about this? Because the key to realizing these benefits is letting mother and baby enjoy this window of time without distraction. Grandparents are not part of the equation and allowing space for parents to bond with their baby is the first generous act you can complete as a grandparent.
If you are lucky enough to be there for the delivery, this means you can help improve the health of both mother and baby by removing yourself from the room. As hard as it might be, you can give your new grandchild and its parents an enormous gift by stepping away.
If you aren’t there for the birth, don’t be hurt if you must wait for a FaceTime call or visit. Your chance to get to know your new grandchild will come soon enough. It will be worth the wait.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DeeDee Moore is the founder of More Than Grand, where new grandparents can find inspiration and resources to help them learn everything they need to know in their new role. DeeDee blogs about issues that matter to grandparents – and parents – such as concrete ways to help new parents, understanding new trends in childcare, and meaningful ways to connect with your grandchildren. Learn more at morethangrand.com.