Hold me closer, tiny dancer.

First published on www.facebook.com/breastfeedingtogether as part of the Topic Tuesday series.

Book on any of our antenatal workshops (at www.breastfeedingtogether.co.uk ) and you are going to hear us talk about skin to skin. A lot.

We just can’t get enough of skin to skin at BfT and we won’t be happy until the whole of Wigan (and beyond to be fair!) is aware of the massive benefits it brings. It’s now encouraged to have your baby delivered straight in to skin to skin, and you can absolutely have skin to skin if you deliver via caesarean. It’s your prize after birthing your baby, and the most natural and beautiful way to meet them.

Skin to skin biologically makes sense. When all we had were our loin cloths, our prehistoric ancestors would have held their offspring tightly against them after birth to keep them warm, safe and secure. Three of the big benefits right there. Mum’s body is so in tune with her new born, that her chest will heat up or cool down accordingly to help regulate baby’s temperature. Held against mum’s chest, oxytocin will be released in both mum and baby, helping that bonding that’s been happening during pregnancy to continue- it also is one of the hormones involved in breastfeeding so it’s a perfect time to offer that first breastfeed In fact, many babies who are left ‘unattended’ in the vicinity of a breast will bob down and have a bash with very little effort from you!

In skin to skin baby can also hear your heartbeat, a very safe and familiar sound from their time in the womb, your hearts will even start to beat in time whilst you’re in skin to skin, regulating your heartbeats and calming you both- how amazing is that? It’s not just beneficial for mum either. Dads, partners, siblings can all get involved, and help with one of the other benefits- the colonization of healthy bacteria! Sounds scientific- and it is, but it’s really just about us rubbing all the lovely healthy bugs and good bacteria from our skin on to the skin of our rather sterile new born and helping to kick start their immune system.

Skin to skin helps to regulate baby’s blood sugars, mums blood loss, it can wake a sleepy baby up and encourage them to feed, it can settle a fractious baby down in seconds, it’s a fantastic way to reconnect with baby if you’ve had time apart…….It’s just magical.

The latest research shows that the benefits of skin to skin are there until your baby is around six years old. And whilst you might not want a fully naked six year old jumping on you, cheeks on chest, arm rubbing or post bath time cuddles can all make it work.

So forgive us for our slight skin to skin obsession, but we’re all about skin to skin for the win!

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