Before anything else, this is the best piece of advice all parents can get in regards to their baby.
Often even before your baby is born you probably hear so many little tips and tricks and "this is the best baby swing" advice there is. From Aunt Suzie, to your doctors, nurses, heck even your own mother. But i want to share with you the number one thing that is non-negotiable, it is the best thing you can do for you and your baby when they are first born. As an IBCLC, i know from my experience and my education that almost ALL IBCLC educate with this same advice when they are helping out families. I know with my practice regardless of the concerns or questions there may be, when i tailor my advice for my client's goals; most definitely this is at the VERY top of the list of recommendations, regardless of the situation.
It doesn't require a lot of work, its 100% free, no accessories or tools needed. All it requires is the mother, or another parent (if there is one) or caregivers involved in giving care to this baby. It is something that can be done immediately after birth, last as long as you want, and you can see benefits of it instantaneously. This sole act has been proven to increase breastfeeding confidence, extend exclusive breastfeeding rates and even increase the chances of breastfeeding duration in many dyads. It has been linked to increasing maternal affection, and lowering stress hormones in the baby therefore lowering infant crying. It helps the baby latch better and more effectively, as well as assist in lowering maternal post-partum pain. Have you figured it out???
SKIN TO SKIN
Remembering that at the end of the day after all is said and done and your baby is out in the world and you are trying to replay everything that just happened in your brain, one thing that is for sure, is that your baby is a mammal just like you. They are meant to cuddle up to their mothers and drink milk from their creator, they are hardwired biologically to do it. Placing your baby on your chest immediately after they are born has proven to stabilize their temperature, heart-rate, breathing, stabilize blood sugar levels, and help re-store their natural breastfeeding habits. Of course breastfeeding as we know is the normal way to feed our children it is also a learned behaviour for both the mother and baby. Skin to skin can help your baby use their senses to find their food source. It can help wake a sleep baby, calm a fussy baby, and it can assist in getting that poorly-latching baby to get an effective latch. Remember that skin to skin literally means baby's flesh against your flesh. So having baby in just a diaper and you topless or with a housecoat on will give it the full effect. Place a blanket over you and you are good to go. Do it as often as you want. Anytime, all day, but especially do it as soon as your baby is born and well into the first week of life. It can really make a difference on the breastfeeding relationship. IF you are having difficulties with feeding, do it EVEN MORE. Skin to skin can also be done and is encouraged to be done with a baby who receives bottles too, of expressed milk, donor milk or even formula as well. When we enter a healthcare facility or birthing centre there is often a baby cot or bassinet tucked nicely beside the bed with a warm flannel and a little slot for their name and birth information. It is often you are educated on "back to sleep" because of such reasons listed in the info pamphlets you are given. But did we just forget that your tiny little human was just tucked in nicely inside a warm, soft womb always hearing your voice and listening to your breathe and heartbeat? Why is it we expect this tiny little human to be wrapped in expensive outfits or swaddles with cute patterns on them immediately after they are born and be placed on their backs to look up at a ceiling all by themselves? I don't know about you but that sounds dreadful. Baby's should not be expected to sleep on their own. So once you place them in that cot, don't be surprised if their eyes pop right open and they start screaming for you. Some baby's don't do that but a majority of them do. I don't blame them! If you want to talk safe co-sleeping options, let me know. But I am telling you cuddling skin to skin with a parent closely will fix that problem. We are mammals you know, most mammals sleep in packs all cuddled up together to use each-other's body heat to stay warm. We are just the luxurious kind who let society tell us differently. Skin to skin has many benefits past the newborn stage as well. Well into infancy it can help with various challenges, and is always a good tactic to help your child fall asleep. It is also beneficial for another caregiver or family member to do skin to skin as well. Be sure to show them how to safely do so, but if you need to grab a shower or do an errand that is the perfect time. So this is by far the best tip i can give, and its the easiest most natural tip there is. You will hear me mention it numerous times when we chat, and it will be encouraged most likely before every feeding session :) Happy cuddling!
The bottom picture is of me and my first son, Nicholas. This was minutes after he was born doing skin to skin with him in the hospital.
The second picture is of our second son Rory, my husband and I. Moments after birth our midwife took a picture of us. He was skin to skin with me immediately, on my upper belly. He did the breast crawl up my chest and latched onto my breast with just a little assistance from me. My husband helped too :)