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Once upon a time, hospital staff took babies away from their mothers at birth - examining, weighing, measuring, wrapping and tightly bundling them before their mothers even held them.
Today we know that approach was wrong. Babies need to be with their mothers.
Research shows that babies who are taken away for the first few minutes or hours of their lives do not stay as warm, are more stressed and don't breastfeed as well. That’s why the goal is to keep moms and babies together for at least the first hour - until the baby has finished feeding.
Importance of the First Hour
Watch a video on the imporatnce of Skin-to-Skin Contact.Even a few minutes away from their mothers can make it harder for babies to breastfeed. Sometimes short separations are needed if the baby or mother is unwell, but it's important to bring them back together as soon as possible.
Here are some tips for ensuring your baby's first feeding is uninterrupted:
- Don't be too eager to know your baby's birth weight. He may breastfeed better if you can wiat until after his first meal.
- The sooner your baby has skin-to-skin contact the better, even after a caesarean birth. Most commonly, the baby goes skin to skin and breastfeeds in the recovery room. Some hospitals are encouraging fathers to hold their newly born babies in the operating room, and some are even supporting mothers to put the baby skin-to-skin and breastfeed in the operating room.
- If you can't put your baby skin-to-skin, see if your partner or support person can.
- Talk with your partner or support person and your healthcare providers about your wishes to have your baby with you until the first feeding is finished.
Did You Know? Babies taken from their mothers before finishing their first feeding may have more difficulty breastfeeding well.
In most hospitals, mothers and babies are cared for together in the same room by the same nurse each shift. Babies rarely go to a nursery during the night. Research shows that mothers get more rest this way. And your partner or support person can stay with you in the hospital.
Reasons to room-in with your baby
- In the hospital, you'll be able to ask important questions while your baby is right next to you.
- You can respond more quickly to your baby's feeding cues.
- You will learn the best ways to comfort your baby.
- Mom and baby togetherness creates hormonal changes in your body that encourage milk production.
- You'll have more opportunities to breastfeed and your baby may lose less weight.
- You'll rest better knowing your baby is safe.
- You'll give your baby good germs to strengthen their immune system.
- It provides more time for skin-to-skin contact, which helps your baby adjust to the world.
- Your baby will cry less in your care.
When you go home, keeping your baby close can help you learn her early feeding cues. While she is safest sleeping in a crib or cot beside your bed at night, your very presence calms your baby.
Did You Know? Baby’s hand movements - such as kneading the mother’s breasts - and sucking at the breast releases a hormone in the mother that helps her uterus to contract. This decreases the risk of excessive bleeding.
VIDEO: Admission to Postpartum - Keeping Your Baby Skin-to-Skin
VIDEO: Baby's Feeding Cues and Behaviours
VIDEO: Breastfeeding Positions
VIDEO: Hand Expressing Milk
VIDEO: Latching Your Baby