Baby's First Hour - Cuddles Time

27 May 2015

Apologies that this blog is a bit sloppy it will be tidied up over the next week....

Skin To Skin & Breastfeeding  - Welcoming Baby To The World

Leaving the familiar, warm, soft and safe uterus must be traumatic for babies.  That wet pink place is all they have ever known in their life. 

Suddenly they are in a cold, bright noisy place with all their arms and legs thrashing about in a huge space and not the soft uterus walls that they are used to holding (cuddling) them.  Also there’s a strange person (midwife/obstetrician) that is greeting them – not the Mum who’s smell and sounds make baby feel safe or the recognisable voice of Dad/Partner.

THIS!!!  This is why Skin To Skin is very important for your baby.  They get back to being able to hear a heartbeat, they hear the familiar voices and if with Mum are able to smell the smell they have learnt through the amniotic fluid while inside.

As well as calming a scared baby, skin to skin regulates baby’s heart and temperature – in some cases much better than any blankets or machines.   It’s important at this stage that baby doesn’t wear a hat.  Mums learnt the smell of baby from their heads and this increases oxytocin (remember the hormone of love <B) and oxytocin plays a huge part in bonding, establishing milk supply and helping create contractions to close up the uterus, send through the cord blood and expel the placenta.

If skin to skin has not been possible immediately after birth all is not lost.  If baby can get skin to skin with Dad/Partner or another person whose voice they will recognise it is MUCH better than nothing until Mum is available again.  If baby needs help and cannot take part in skin to skin immediately again all is not lost  - as soon as is physically possible it can be initiated and then maintained as long as possible.  Babies that have experienced extended skin to skin contact, after even long periods of separation have shown that they fare better once in Mum’s arms.

Baby’s First Hour

A baby placed on Mum’s chest will display certain behaviours in preparation for the first feed.  In fact there are 9 phases that baby will go through before initiating that first feed.   If these 9 phases are interrupted for any reason (ie weighing baby etc) then it will start again from number 1.  This is why uninterrupted skin to skin is so important for getting breastfeeding off to the best start.

The stages are:

1.        The birth cry – a robust angry cry that helps wake the lungs up.

2.       Relaxation – baby will be perfectly still on Mums chest for up to 2-3 mins.

3.       Awakening – eyes will open and small head and hand movements begin, also some mouth movements in preparation for feeding.

4.       Maybe a little rest – maybe not.  A rest doesn’t signal that they need help – just that their brain is storing away what they have just learnt – and there’s lots to learn in that first hour!

5.       Activity – baby starts sucking a bit on their hands sometimes, make little hungry noises maybe even rooting around  – they have increased eye contact with Mum and begin looking at the breast (for that lovely darkened nipple which in their fuzzy eyesight looks like a target!)

6.       Another rest

7.       Crawling – moving towards the breast.  This is where the baby starts to look for food with some vigour.  Babies on Mummies tummies can actually commando-crawl their way to the breast if left alone using their sense of smell and that “target” view alone.

8.       Familiarisation – getting to know the nipple!  At this stage baby smells and licks the nipple and massages the boob.  This can last up to 20 mins and is not a sign that baby is struggling to latch – they are special stages to prepare Mum and baby for the feed.

9.       Latch.  Babies on their own will open their mouth wide and latch themselves with a cupped tongue.   If a baby is helped to latch in any of the earlier stages maybe for speed or worried they’re struggling then baby will not have cupped his/her tongue meaning the latch is unsuccessful and can cause trauma and frustration all around.

10.   First feed.  Babies will feed on Mum’s colostrum which helps stimulate further contractions of the uterus and milk production in a few days.  The colostrums will line baby’s guts with friendly bacteria and immunities and proteins.

And then baby may sleep comfortably on Mums chest feeling safe in their new world.

This information has been taken from the following two resources: