Breastfeeding A to Z

Skin-to-skin Contact

The greatest success with breastfeeding occurs when you have the opportunity to have immediate, continuous and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with your baby for first 1-2 hours after you deliver.  Please let your doctor or midwife know this is what you want PRIOR to delivery.  Discuss it with them.  Make sure they understand the importance of this to you and your baby.  Also, it helps to have whomever is with you at delivery know this is what you want, so that you have another advocate for skin-to-skin contact with your baby for the first 1-2 hours after delivery, at your birth experience.  Note: Even if that isn’t how your birth experience goes, skin-to-skin contact is still something you can do as soon as possible, for as long as possible to aid breastfeeding your baby.  Swedish researcher Ann-Marie Widstrom emphasizes the critical importance of NOT forcing the infant to the breast and allowing the infant to proceed through the nine steps at their own pace.  (1)

  1. The birth cry is a distinct and specific cry as the baby’s lungs expand for the first time.
  2. Relaxation is a time immediately after the birth cry ends, when the baby becomes still and has no visible movements.
  3. Awakening begins as the baby opens the eyes for the first time, blinks, has small mouth movements, and limited hand and shoulder motions.
  4. Activity involves larger body movements, including whole arm motions, specific finger movements, shoulder motion, head lifting and stable open eyes.
  5. Rest could happen at any point during the first, hour, interspersed between stages or as a transition between stages.
  6. Crawling involves the baby moving purposely toward the breast and nipple.  It could be accomplished through sliding, leaping, bobbing or pushing.
  7. Familiarization is a stage at the mother’s nipple where the baby licks, tastes, touches, and moves around the nipple and areola area.
  8. Suckling involves the baby self-attaching to the nipple and intitiating breastfeeding.
  9. Sleeping is an involuntary activity of the baby around 1.5-2 hours after birth.

(1) Ann-Marie Widstroms research on the 9 instinctive stages: Online published September 14, 2010 in Acta Paediatrica.