Every baby has their own unique journey into the world. Some will surprise you earlier than expected, and others refuse to leave their mother’s nest. But, whenever and wherever they decide to make an appearance, those early days are sure to leave a mark on your heart forever.
To mark the new partnership between JOHNSON'S® Baby and Alder Hey Children's Charity, we're taking a closer look at everything you need to know about those all-important newborn cuddles and how they can welcome your little one to their new home and adoring family.
The Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact
You may have heard about this in your antenatal classes or from fellow parents, but let’s cover the basics. Skin-to-skin contact is exactly what it sounds like, placing your newborn on your bare skin, with no layers of clothes in between you.
Skin-to-skin is typically offered to you within minutes of your newborn being out in the world, to greet your baby in a way that’s reassuring, familiar and comforting. By placing your little one against your chest, it can help your baby adjust to this noisy, new environment outside of its previous home. The sound of a heartbeat, your voice, and your scent can help settle your baby post-birth.
Skin-to-skin contact also releases our happy hormone - oxytocin - which helps to nurture the bonding process between parent and baby. And if you’re planning to breastfeed, the close proximity to your chest could also help spark your baby’s natural rooting instinct, to explore and suckle for the first time.
What if I Can’t Hold My Baby After Birth?
Not all parents have the opportunity to cuddle their newborn straight away. NCT report that one in eight babies* born in the UK will be admitted to a neonatal unit for specialist care if they were born prematurely, have a low birth weight, or have a medical condition requiring specialist treatment.
Even if immediate skin-to-skin contact is not an available option, you can still adopt ‘kangaroo care’. This method involves taking stabilised low-weight or premature babies out of the incubator for as long as it's recommended and safe to do so for skin-to-skin moments with parents. Studies have shown the incredible physical and emotional benefits for both baby and parents, from regulating body temperature to reducing instances of infections.
Joanne Minford, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, said that the benefits of kangaroo care are well-known for bonding and attachment, but for also things like pain relief.
Here she explains more about the importance of skin-to-skin care:
Developments to Neonatal Care in the UK
When newborn babies need extra care and attention, they can sometimes be separated from their parents, making kangaroo care near impossible. In the UK, units are often not built with family integrated care in mind, but there’s a change in the air.
This year, JOHNSON'S® Baby and Alder Hey Children's Hospital have partnered up to keep families and tiny babies together in neonatal care. Together with Liverpool Women’s Hospital, Alder Hey has designed the first surgical neonatal unit, where families can stay with their babies in private, comfortable rooms whilst still accessing expert care from clinicians.
Have a little look at the amazing work being done in the video below:
This innovative facility, packed with the technology and thoughtful enhancements that give babies and their families the best environment to thrive, will be the first of its kind in the UK.
Jo Minford says: “This gives parents the opportunity to be involved with their baby’s care right from the start.”
“[It] keeps the family at the heart of everything that we do, keeps the family together, and gives parents the opportunity to look after their children with us and not be separated from them.”