One of my most rewarding perks as an RN, IBCLC at my hospital is visiting moms and their new babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). These babies are so precious, and often parents feel very helpless when they stand there looking into the incubator, anxiously counting the minutes until they can hold their babies again. There is nothing more amazing than seeing the sigh of relief from both a mom and her baby when they touch each other for the first time Skin to Skin (STS).
These first weeks in the NICU can really make or break a successful breastfeeding relationship. Pumping every 2-3 hours is imperative, and the first piece of advice I offer when asked how to help a mother increase her milk supply is to tell her to pump while holding her baby skin to skin.
This very simple act helps these two puzzle pieces fit together: Mom and Baby become one.
From the moment the baby is placed on the mother’s body, biological messages are sent:
- For baby, his heart rate, respirations, and blood sugar begin to stabilize. The cortisol (stress hormone) in his blood is decreasing and now he is enveloped in a calm state; baby is relaxing into a quiet and deep sleep. This “quiet sleep” will allow him to grow and gain weight faster than his peers who are not practicing Skin to Skin Care.
- By hearing mom’s heartbeat, feeling her chest rise and fall with each breath, and experiencing the warmth of his mother’s chest, he is becoming regulated by the natural physiology of her body.
- When the baby is ready to breastfeed, Skin to Skin Care aids in a correct and comfortable latch, this is such an important milestone for both parties. The protective properties from mom’s milk boost his immune system and mom begins to learn her baby’s early hunger cues.
- Babies who are not receiving STS care are surviving, but those who practice it daily are thriving and often times are released earlier from the NICU.
The most amazing aspect of Skin to Skin is that it is reciprocal. What benefits baby, benefits Mom, and this is especially true for mothers of NICU babies. This time spent together decreases Mom’s risk for postpartum depression, builds her confidence in her new role, and can increase her milk supply by boosting her oxytocin, and relaxing her milk ejection reflex. This simple act floods her body with calming endorphins and helps her to fall in love with her sweet little gift.
Having witnessed over and over again the amazing benefits of Skin to Skin Care, I developed Hudlo, a Skin to Skin clothing company. The success stories of mothers and babies thriving in my practice only reinforced my belief that all mothers and babies should be endowed with the benefits of Skin to Skin Care. This is why my husband and I have created garments to be worn in the OR, NICU, and up to 6 months.
Hudlo is named after my two children Hudson and Harlow who were born via emergency Cesareans and where immediate Skin to Skin was not an option for us. We designed a multi-purpose Skin to Skin Shirt to practice horizontal Kangaroo Care in the operating room to assist with Skin to Skin during a Cesarean and to be worn in the halter style for vertical Kangaroo Care in the NICU. We also designed a Skin to Skin Baby Carrier to hold infants 5-20 pounds during the “4th trimester” postpartum.
Much love to all of you mothers, and I wish you success in all of your birth stories!
milk it, llc has chosen to support Hudlo in their Indiegogo campaign to help make these amazing Skin to Skin shirts a reality! You can contribute and help moms and babies as well - every dollar counts!