First contact crucial for postpartum healing and breastfeeding journey
Why is it important to have uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact in the first hour(s) after birth? It is often referred to as the golden hour. It is the newborn's first contact with the world, after 9 months of being protected by the womb. That is one important reason to decline newborn interventions and procedures in the first hour(s) after birth. Besides this intuitive feeling, there are 7 important benefits for the mother's postpartum healing, breastfeeding journey and mother-infant bonding.
7 benefits of skin-to-skin contact in first hour:
An earlier expulsion of the placenta (which can reduce blood loss)
Lowers maternal stress levels
Increases breastfeeding self-efficacy (a mother's confidence with breastfeeding)
The first latch is more successful (compared to a forced first latch)
Improves optimal suckling
Increases the chance for exclusive breastfeeding (without formula supplementation)
Hormones (mainly oxytocin) are released that establish the first bond
These were the main conclusions of a cochrane review in 2016. Another study shows that it can avoid significant latching problems and lengthen the breastfeeding time a mother and newborn will be on. Newborns with breastfeeding problems were often forced in the beginning stage (in the first few hours after birth). Mother with these type of experiences breastfed for a shorter time than women with a gentle introduction of the baby to the breast (Widstrom et al., 2019).