Skin to Skin has become a very important part of giving birth and for many, an important part of a child’s first year of life. Studies have shown that children who aren’t given skin to skin grow up lacking secure attachment to their mother. These children are more likely to suffer from depression & likely do poor in school.
Now, I don’t know if all of that is true but my first skin to skin experience was one that I will never forget and will always cherish. So much so that till this day I make sure to have skin to skin time with my son even though I don’t breast feed. In fact; one of the reasons why they say breast feeding is so important is for the skin to skin contact itself. But just because a woman is unable to breast feed or chooses not to breast feed doesn’t mean she is incapable of practicing this bonding experience regularly.
The first time I met Dash Alexander was during skin to skin. One last push and there he was. The doctor says “would you like to meet your son” and before I could cry yes she plopped him on my chest. He was screaming as she did this but the screams disappeared within a second of our skin touching. He lay there, staring into my eyes and in that moment I saw God. I have never been more of a Christian than I was in that very moment.
My breast feeding story is sadly a short one. The truth is, I wasn’t strong enough this first time around. I pushed myself for two months & for awhile I had a decent supply going but I gave up shortly after. I cared but before I realized how much my supply was gone. For awhile I feared I would miss out on that bond with my son. I worried he would no longer feel as though he needed me. I worried that because of this he would no longer know who I was. But I was wrong. And thank God for it. What eventually I realized was that even though I was no longer his source of food I was still the first scent he ever smelled, the first heartbeat he ever heard, the first texture he ever felt. I could and still can provide a blanket for my child that no one else can provide. It’s a blanket only he knows. And it’s me.
So I did some research. I got online and googled different ways I could still bond on a spiritual level with my son and damn right, skin to skin was mentioned every time. It is said that babies can benefit from skin to skin care in the days, weeks and even months following birth. It’s been recommended by many doctors, nurses and mothers. Till this day I occasionally will participate in some skin to skin bonding with my son and he’s almost 6 months old.
Here is how
1. Unwrap your baby so that he/she is wearing nothing but a diaper.
2. Turn baby’s face to the side in a position that opens baby’s airway. (Like this) Some organizations recommend a stretchy wrap to hold baby in place for “prolonged care” (See guidelines for proper technique here
2. Keep baby nestled for a minimum of one hour. “It is important for your baby to go through a full sleep-wake cycle which is usually about 60 minutes as a minimum to get the full benefits of SSC, and to get her biological systems stabilised. For a tiny [preemie], their body systems will not be mature enough to stabilise themselves, so mothers chest helps them to settle in to a sleep-cycling and feeding rhythm.”
Directions from mommypotamus
Here are a few ways I incorporated skin to skin into our daily routine without breast feeding.
Bath Time ; Getting in the tub with my son has not only kept me more involved during bath time but it has also given us the opportunity to bond skin to skin.
This is popular with a lot of moms. Throw some petals in there while your at it to give your skin a healthy treat.
Nap Time ; We LOVE naps in our household! On maternity leave, I spent a lot of time hanging out in nothing but my underwear. I was exhausted! I didn’t have energy to change let alone do laundry. And with how often they say you should (pump/breast feed) there was really no sense in wearing a shirt anyways so skin to skin naps were pretty common for us and they still are. Sometimes after a bath I will feed him a bottle in bed while we cuddle skin to skin which usually leads to a REALLY long nap. I have found that skin to skin naps are so soothing for my son that he sleeps longer than he would fully dressed.
Swimming ; Skin to Skin Doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be topless. Getting into a pool and holding you child to your chest can also give off the same bond. Your child feels safe in your arms as well as warm from the body heat making him trust you more.
Don’t forget Daddy ; Studies have also shown the importance of skin to skin bonding between the father & child. After all, he or she is just as much your child as they are his.