The first hour after birth is often referred to as the “Magical Hour.” A baby placed on her mother’s chest right after being born tends to show nine distinct stages of bonding including relaxation and rooting to suckle. Studies have shown that this beautiful early bonding correlates to babies who breastfeed more easily and often. The close physical contact could also help mom produce more of the feel-good hormone oxytocin which is connected to ample milk production.
Research has shown that newborns who have had skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth are far more likely to latch to the breast within the first hour than those who miss out on that critical time together. A good latch is key to successful breastfeeding for several reasons: babies who latch well are more successful at getting the amount of milk they want and they are also less likely to create soreness for mom. The more uncomfortable mom is, the less likely she is to want to continue nursing. For nipple chaffing or discomfort, don’t hesitate to spread your own colostrum over the nipple area and then use an organic, edible nipple salve for extra protection.
Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t latch on right away. Most healthy full-term babies will eat when they show signs of being ready. Moms who have baby close to them for skin-to-skin time also tend to recognize the signs of hunger and fullness more quickly in their babies.
Close contact during the very first hour after birth can raise the prolactin levels in Mom, which is the hormone chiefly responsible for making enough milk to feed baby. In fact, the increase in a mother’s oxytocin and prolactin levels in the first few hours after birth can have lasting positive effects on milk production.
When there’s lots of milk, even if baby has a less than ideal latch, he can usually still get enough, although this is not ideal as it could lead to complications like feeding too often, blocked ducts or even mastitis.
Even if you do not breastfeed your child, having lots of skin-to-skin time can still be a boon in recognizing your baby’s cues for hunger and satiety.
Practicing skin-to-skin care right from start has been linked with a higher rate of moms exclusively breastfeeding after leaving the hospital. Breast milk is not only the perfect source of sustenance for baby, but it also passes critical antibodies to baby from Mom. Skin-to-skin contact during breastfeeding and otherwise also allows other antibodies to be transferred from Mom’s skin to baby’s skin.
In addition to the skin-to-skin contact you share during feedings, there are a variety of activities you can incorporate into your daily lives to promote and support ample milk production through skin-to-skin care. Massage with a probiotic massage serum is one of the best.
Using skin care products with ingredients that promote the health of skin and body like essential fatty acids and probiotics on you and your baby during these early moments could boost the benefits of skin-to-skin care by supporting skin barrier development and the healthy balance of dermal micro flora. Choose skincare products for you and baby with a pH of 5.5, with no proteins and that are free of artificial fragrances and mineral oil.
Get Dr. Greene's Pregnancy Newsletter
Sign up for Dr. Greene's FREE week-by-week newsletter, timed to your pregnancy to keep you up to date on every stage of your baby's development.