The following is a student blog post by a Sherry Gammon
The Importance of Partner Skin-To-Skin Practices
New-parenthood is an exciting time for families. After the whirlwind of announcing the pregnancy, baby showers, doctor’s appointments, and the grand finale, birth, couples welcome their bundle of joy into their homes and begin the wonderful transformation from couple to family unit. Throughout this process, partners may feel left out, or like they cannot possibly deliver the level of care to the new baby as the nursing mother. In all actuality, partners can do everything the mother does and can be fulfilled in much the same way. One way partners can develop their own bond with their baby, is through skin-to-skin in the first hours, days, and weeks immediately following the birth of a child.
Many experts agree, skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby immediately following birth has a positive impact on the health of a newborn and mother. A review of 17 studies found that “statistically significant and positive effects of early skin-to-skin contact were found in relation to breastfeeding incidence at one to three months of age, breastfeeding duration, maintenance of infant temperature in the neutral thermal range, infant blood glucose, infant crying and summary scores of maternal affection during an observed breastfeed within the first few days of the baby’s life,” (http://www.unicef.org.uk/BabyFriendly/News-and-Research/Research/Skin-to-skin-contact/Review-finds-significant-benefits-of-skin-to-skin-contact/). Doctors and midwife offices worldwide are emphasizing and promoting the practice as a result of these findings.
But what about partners? Skin-to-skin practiced by the mother’s partner can also have positive effects on the health and relationship of the baby. Http://www.kangeroomothercare.com cites better bonding, emotional healing, empowerment to care for the baby, and better sleep as reasons to give this practice a try. If the mother has a c-section and cannot participate in skin-to-skin right away, the partner can use this opportunity to initiate this bond while the mother is still in the operating room. If the mother gives birth to multiples, the partner can also take over with one or more child while the mother focuses on one at a time. Premature babies also need special care as they have more trouble stabilizing than a full-term newborn. Skin-to-skin can decrease the time it takes for this to happen.
A partner’s relationship with a new baby is just as important as the mother’s relationship. Though it can be more difficult to establish, the bond between a baby and partner can begin in the delivery room. As soon as the first successful breastfeeding session is completed, a partner should feel empowered to step in and experience how amazing skin-to-skin can be. Especially in instances of health issues, skin-to-skin is extremely beneficial in increasing the stabilization and strength of the newborn, and this practice is something every partner should feel they can help with.
Madeline Bechler is a Birth Arts International trained postpartum doula. Residing right outside of Philadelphia, PA, Madeline focuses her practice on educating mothers and families on the importance of a strong family unit in the days and weeks following the birth of a child. Her website is http://www.bastetdoulaservices.com.