Skin-to-skin bonding for baby means the infant is more likely to latch on well for breastfeeding. The baby is also able to maintain body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. He/she has higher blood sugar, is less likely to cry, and more likely to breastfeed exclusively and longer.
As a doula, I can encourage skin-to-skin by reminding the mother to put the naked baby on her bare chest and if she is not able to, I can remind the father that he can also participate in this special bonding. If her baby is in the NICU, I can encourage skin-to-skin, dependent on hospital policy, with aid of a kangaroo shirt.
A mother may choose to delay her baby’s first bath (regardless of whether baby is born in the hospital or in a birth center) for several reasons. A newborn’s skin is extremely sensitive to touch, especially from a washcloth, and delaying a bath can give the baby’s skin some time to adjust to life outside of the amniotic sac and exposed to oxygen. The vernix softens, moisturizes, and protects the baby from infection, which baby is most susceptible to the first 24 hours of life. In addition, a bath will lower the baby’s body temperature, which may prompt a visit to a warmer and limit baby’s skin-to-skin time.