My fourth birth went from being a planned homebirth to a vacuum-assisted, epidural-numbed hospital birth. One of the things that worried me a lot about this transfer was how we would do with breastfeeding. My first birth and breastfeeding experience had been really challenging, at least in part because we had a rough birth and were separated for the first few days. I didn’t want the same thing to happen again. Actually I was terrified that it would happen again. The one thing that I felt I could influence was what happened after the birth. I had read Righad and Alade’s 1990 paper about how uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact after birth could help minimize the effects of labor medications on early breastfeeding. As soon as my daughter was born they handed her to me. I didn’t let go of her until she latched and nursed successfully – about 3 hours later. The staff kept suggesting that I might like to know how big she was and get her cleaned up. I just smiled and said that I wasn’t in a hurry. My husband and I kept smiling and thanking everyone for their help and ignoring any suggestions that we do anything other than keep her on my chest. We went on to have a long, and fairly trouble-free, nursing relationship.
This is just one story about skin-to-skin and of course one story doesn’t prove anything. But there a many studies now looking at how skin-to-skin time promotes infant well-being. Here are some good starting places if you want to learn more yourself or if you’d like to educate (convince?) someone else:
Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition handout. Cute picture of how to do it, short summaries of why it’s good. This is for when you just want the information without a lot of reading.
Cochrane Summary. This is a great resource for the statistics- and science-loving skeptics in your life. Cochrane summaries evaluate other studies and try to come to the best-supported conclusions about health care choices.
Kangaroo Mother Care. This website focuses on skin-to-skin care for preemies. There is information for parents and care providers.
Research study bibliography. This is for the geekiest of study lovers. All the peer-reviewed journal reading you could hope for!