What are the benefits of skin-to-skin for newborns? How do you manage mother and baby skin-to-skin contact while staying modest?
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The transition between birthing your baby and holding your baby can be a very overwhelming moment in time.
The practice of skin-to-skin contact in North American hospitals is evolving as more studies continue to emerge, highlighting the many benefits that skin-to-skin contact has on both the mother and baby and even between the father and baby.
Many organizations recommend skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth or within the first 24 hours post-delivery. They include: the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ADM), and the list keeps growing.
In this post, you will learn about the benefits of skin-to-skin contact, and exactly what you need to do it modestly.
Top 11 Benefits of Skin-to-Skin contact:
- It provides stability to premature babies faster and is more reliable than being left alone in an incubator.
- Stabilizes the baby’s heart rate and breathing patterns.
- Maintains a baby’s body temperature.
- Soothes pain when the baby needs to have blood work or other tests that might otherwise be uncomfortable.
- It prevents blood sugar from dipping too low.
- Reduces baby’s crying.
- Stimulates milk production at a faster rate in breastfeeding moms.
- Helps the baby latch better.
- Reduces stress on both mom and baby.
- Supports healthy brain development.
- Aids in reducing or preventing postpartum depression.
The above is not an exhaustive list; there are many more benefits that arise with skin-to-skin contact. The list above gives you a glimpse of the wholistic value these moments have.
Skin-to-skin contact is not only beneficial right after birth but also for quite some time after. It is recommended to utilize this strategy for the first 12 weeks until you and your baby are ready to transition away from skin-to-skin. This transition may vary for everyone.
It is also beneficial if the father does skin-to-skin contact with the baby as well. Father and baby receive all the same benefits as listed above, allowing them to bond, feel protective of the baby and become more confident as a new parent.
There are many studies out there that provide ample information on skin-skin-skin contact with baby after birth.
Despite what I mentioned already, this concept might still be new to you.
My story of trying to stay modest while exercising skin-to-skin contact:
If you are a Muslim mom living in the west, maintaining modesty while having skin-to-skin time with your baby can be challenging for many different reasons.
When I had my first child, I had family and guests visiting. To do skin-to-skin contact, I needed to isolate myself in my bedroom away from all the guests, which made me feel very guilty, so I would cut short the skin-to-skin time to return and be present with my guests.
On top of that, to do skin-to-skin, I needed to take my baby’s clothes off, and when you have a newborn baby, that can be a chore on its own.
I noticed when I finished skin-to-skin, the baby was asleep, but I still needed to put their clothes back on. This would always disrupt the baby’s sleep because I was still learning how to put clothes on smoothly.
The whole process started becoming more stressful than I read it should be. Being in the postpartum stage and very emotional didn’t help my situation, I’m sure.
I found myself only doing skin-to-skin in the evenings or after all my guests left. This wasn’t practical or the best solution, and in fact, I may have lost out on fully maximizing skin-to-skin contact with my baby in the early weeks just after birth, when it is most beneficial.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I made sure to do things differently. I knew there was a way to do skin-to-skin modestly, but I needed to find the solution. And I did.
The second time around, skin-to-skin was a walk in the park because I was prepared and had solutions that suited my circumstances.
Here is what you need if you want to do skin-to-skin contact and maintain your modesty, even if you have family and close friends visiting:
This top saved my skin-to-skin experience with my baby. I would wear this top all day long and slide my baby right inside whenever I wanted to (with or without my baby wearing clothes).
I have sensitive skin, so cotton is always my go-to material. This shirt is 86% Cotton and 4% elastane and feels smooth against the skin.
This shirt is 3/4 sleeve and fitted, but an easy solution for that is to slip on a lovely long sleeve comfortable cardigan of your choice. You can wear a scarf covering your chest as long as it’s a breathable fabric for the baby. Keeping the baby’s airways open is necessary.
This top is definitely for moms who tend to get hot quickly and hate sitting in their sweat. The mesh underarms and back releases heat so that you can stay comfortable while wearing your baby for skin-to-skin contact.
The fantastic thing about this top is that it comes with a support belt, so you won’t get nervous thinking the baby might slide out from the bottom of the shirt. The support belt keeps the baby elevated toward your chest and lets you use your hands to carry on day-to-day tasks.
The top comes with instructions on safely wearing your baby for skin-to-skin contact. This is always helpful for a new mom.
Like the Cotton skin-to-skin top, you will need to wear a cardigan over top of this shirt since it is short sleeves and fitted.
The same company makes this top as the Short Sleeve Pocket top; however, this top is a 3/4 sleeve and does not provide the mesh in the underarms and back to release heat. This can make some people uncomfortable and overheat because the top is 90% Polyester and 10% Spandex and will absorb heat. If that’s not an issue for you, then this is also a great choice.
This shirt also comes with a support belt, which is always helpful.
This romper solved my problem of taking my baby’s clothes off each time I wanted to do skin-to-skin. All I had to do with this romper was un-velcro it and slide baby into my top. Baby’s chest was bare against mine, and voila! Skin-to-skin accomplished. I used this, especially when I had family visiting.
When the skin-to-skin time was over and my baby was in a deep sleep, all I had to do was velcro the top back up and place my baby down gently in the bassinet.
A more economical alternative to the Footed Romper is the Gerber Baby Long-Sleeve side snap Mitten Cuff Shirt. This top does the same trick as the footed romper but doesn’t include a pant.
When using this top, I noticed that it would stretch more than I wanted it to and because it was not attached to a pant, the shirt would ride up whenever I placed the baby in my top.
I found it a bit annoying to deal with that, but it’s not impossible. This shirt still makes it easier to place the baby in its sleeping spot when you are done with skin-to-skin time, and that is always welcomed.
All these solutions combined made skin-to-skin a seamless experience for me. I used these items whenever I needed to carry out a task but wanted to keep my baby close, and I could do skin-to-skin with my family around, modestly and guilt-free whenever I wanted to!
Men can do skin-to-skin modestly as well. Here is what you need:
Skin-to-skin for dad and baby is beneficial, and the same modesty issues apply, especially when you have a full house.
I got this shirt for my husband so he wouldn’t have to stay in our bedroom or even in one spot to do skin-to-skin with our baby.
Wearing this top allows dad to carry the baby around while completing day-to-day tasks. It’s a win-win situation and gives mommy a break!
Side Note: Dad may not love the idea of wearing this top in front of family and friends, and that’s totally fine, but it definitely comes in handy when they need to take care of things around the house. The baby loves the lull of movement while hearing dad’s heartbeat.
If any of you mamas are anything like me, these options are sure to help you with your skin-to-skin experience as you welcome your new baby into this world. These products have been tried and tested by our family!
For pregnant mamas looking for ways to labor and give birth to your baby modestly, you will definitely want to take a read through Labor and Delivery with Modesty in Mind.
Setz, Jolyn. “The Importance of Skin-to-Skin with Baby after Delivery.” Sanford Health News, 18 July 2017, news.sanfordhealth.org/childrens/the-importance-of-skin-to-skin-after-delivery-you-should-know/. Accessed January 30, 2021.
Fetters, K. Aleisha, and McGinnis B. Tracy. “Kangaroo Care: The Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact.” Parents, March 27, 2020, www.parents.com/baby/care/newborn/kangaroo-care-the-importance-of-a-parents-touch/. Accessed February 2, 2021.