Over time, we have learned that the action of skin to skin contact between mother and baby is more than “just” a loving cuddle. Instead, it is a remarkable practice that holds potential for both physical and emotional healing. A therapeutic embrace that can deepen a bond, enhance intuition, and signal the body for our baby’s needs. Our bodies are wonderous vessels, with capabilities so profound, especially in this time of our lives. Let’s uncover some of the magic of this extraordinary practice and its potential to transform your journey into one of healing, love, and a blissful start to parenthood.
Directly after birth, a practice called the golden hour is the first introduction to skin to skin.
‘The golden hour’ is a term coined by Dr. R. Adams Cowley. It describes the period of uninterrupted time when the baby is freshly out of the womb, placed directly on mothers bare chest, and a world of wonder emerges. This intimate connection starts the flow of our love hormone, oxytocin.
I remember moments before my son was born, there was such an intense amount of energy, and the loud focus of getting him out of me surged like a wildfire. After he finally came earthside, my husband put our fresh wrinkly, vernix covered baby into my hands, and I scooped him intuitively onto my chest and suddenly the world stopped. My once insane adrenaline-frenzied body calmed. My heart slowed and I remember just staring at this beautiful new soul on my chest in awe. Such a powerful shift of energy occurred. You can feel that oxytocin rush come over you like a wave, surrounding the two of you in a quiet chamber. Everything was still around us, and that action of skin to skin activated such a powerful emotion that I can still feel to this day. What’s even more incredible is in these first moments of bare skin to skin, the mothers body helps regulate her baby’s body temperature, can stabilize the baby’s heartbeat and promotes healthy breathing. The baby is then able to feel comforted by a familiar scent, warmth, touch and sound of their mother, igniting a deep sense of connection.
Oxytocin and the release of other hormones are responsible for the first steps of physical healing, which can be stimulated by skin to skin.
Oxytocin promotes contractions, helping to expel any remaining placental tissue and reducing postpartum bleeding. It also provides natural pain relief which alleviates discomfort in the perineal area and helps rid the body of cortisol. The combination of this and the hormone prolactin, which is responsible for the production of milk, facilitates the baby’s natural instinct to root for the breast. So what may feel like such magic and wonder, is actually backed by a lot of science and study.
I remember after the birth I mentioned above, my midwife encouraged me to continue skin to skin as much as possible in those first few days and weeks. The effect that it has on your physical and emotional well-being is carried through those tender moments of early postpartum and offers a profound affirmation into your new role. More than a decade ago, I worked for a woman who taught me the power of touch. Her business’ mantra was “We believe touch is the most important and gratifying of the human senses.” I remember being a young woman and not understanding the grasp of those words. But each time I initiated into another form of motherhood, those words rang truer and truer.
Our touch matters. It is the first form of language our children can feel.
It has the power to calm them or to ignite them. So when we can lay our babies on our bare chests and be with them in those slow moments, feel our heart beats and our moving breath, we are fostering their emotional state of being. More so, we are supporting their physical well being. Better sleep patterns arise when mothers display skin to skin, optimal neurological developments, digestion, weight gain etc. It truly is amazing when you look at it all.
As you embark on your own postpartum journey, you might enjoy a couple of products I found to love during my most current postpartum. We are in no way affiliated with these companies, we just truly love their products!
- Bonsie is a company that specializes in skin to skin clothing for baby, which feel like butter and have easy velcro kimono style openings that make it easy to expose the baby’s bare skin to your skin.
- This is a nice lightweight blanket I felt was great to cover baby’s naked back while we laid together. Here was my favorite brand. It’s organic muslin, super soft and durable.
In embracing the miracles of skin to skin contact, we unlock a pathway to healing, love and a blissful start to parenthood. Let the wonders of this practice guide you in creating deep connections and cherished moments with your precious little one. Tap into the innate capability of your body and trust in the magic that lies within your touch.
Written by Ashley Jacobs