Meeting your baby for the first time
A lovely way to say hello to your baby, is to spend time holding your baby giving skin to skin contact, whether you are breast or bottle feeding.
This special time together helps calm you both after labour and birth. Placing the baby on your skin so she/he can hear your heartbeat, recognise your smell, and listen to your voice will reassure them that they are in a safe place.
Skin to skin contact will also help keep your baby warm which is very important in the first hours after birth. It’s important that you and baby are not rushed at this time, so ask the midwife to either weigh baby quickly just after birth or wait until he has had a first feed.
As baby relaxes she/he will begin to search around for your breast making tiny mouthing and head bobbing movements. This is the best time for you to make the decision about how you would like to feed your baby.
If you decide to breastfeed, or even to offer your baby just one breastfeed, let baby take their time to seek out and find your breast. Your baby is learning exactly what to do to get that valuable first colostrum-rich breastmilk.
Colostrum is the perfect source of nutrition for your baby because it:
- contains antibodies which protect your baby from infection and help their immune system to develop.
- helps your baby’s digestive system to develop, which protects your baby from allergies.
- encourages your baby to open their bowels and pass ‘meconium’ (your baby’s first black sticky poo) which reduces their risk of jaundice.
If you decide to bottle feed, offer the first feed while still in skin contact with your baby. The first feed you and your baby share is very special so try to make sure it is you that offers this as it helps baby’s and your hormones levels.
Partners and other family members can be involved by staying close and talking to baby, whilst you have skin to skin contact and feed your baby. Baby will already be familiar with your partner’s voice. Ask your partner to have skin to skin contact with your baby whilst you are having a shower, if you are bottle feeding they can give baby their 2nd bottle feed in skin to skin.