All posts tagged: advice

Skin-to-Skin Contact with your Baby: Why is it so Important?

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Skin-to-skin contact is one of the most natural and beautiful experiences that you or your partner can share with your baby. It plays an important role in the bonding process, is an integral part of successful breastfeeding and assists your baby in their transition to their new life, both physiologically and emotionally.

The first chance for skin-to skin contact is as soon as you have delivered your baby. Have your baby placed on your bare chest with a blanket placed over the top of you for warmth. This time is often referred to as the ‘Magical Hour’ and is such a precious and important time for the early stages of the bonding process to occur. The touch of your baby releases a hormone called oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’. This enhances the bonding and attachment between you and your beautiful new baby.

Skin-to-skin contact helps to fulfil the need that your baby has instinctively for human contact and gives your baby the security and reassurance that they need, giving them a lovely calm and gentle entry into the outside world. Studies have shown that babies who are held skin-to-skin regularly and who are cuddled and kept close to their mothers in their first few days/months of their life show clearly that they are more settled and cry less than those separated from their mother.

Having your baby skin-to-skin has a powerful effect on your baby’s physical state. It regulates their temperature (babies are born with an immature thermoregulation system so if a baby is struggling with keeping warm in their first few days, skin –to-skin contact has been shown to be more effective at warming a baby than any artificial warmer) it also regulates their breathing, heart rate and it even keeps their blood sugar levels stable. It also strengthens your baby’s immune system because your baby becomes colonized to the bacteria that is on your skin. Your breast milk then produces antibodies in response and makes your milk specifically protective against that bacteria. Pretty clever aye.

Skin-to-skin also plays an important role in successful breastfeeding. At birth, both you and your baby have extremely powerful pheromones that attract you to each other. It also instinctively attracts your baby to your nipple. Babies are born with senses and reflexes that help them to smell, crawl, lick and latch onto the breast to feed…nature is truly amazing when we don’t interfere with it. There is a beautiful video put out by UNICEF that shows exactly this…well worth a watch. Research has even shown that when skin-to-skin contact is used regularly throughout those early weeks, it helps to encourage a very good milk supply.

Skin-to-skin can be practiced not only just after your baby is born but also throughout your baby’s first few months of life. It works very effectively to calm an unsettled baby as it replicates the security they felt from being in the womb. Other lovely ways of giving your baby skin-to-skin is by giving your baby a massage, having a bath with your baby or even wearing your baby using a front pack or sling etc.

Skin-to skin is such a lovely experience to share with your baby and lets not forget the Dad’s too, they can be very much a part of this experience.

I hope all is going well for you and your baby but please feel free to contact me at anytime if you feel you need some further support or advice.

Elysia GobbieSkin-to-Skin Contact with your Baby: Why is it so Important?
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The 4th Trimester – A Time for Nurturing.

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Take a minute and try to think about the world through your baby’s eyes. One moment your baby is snuggled up in a warm, dark and cramped space being soothed by all of your movements and sounds and every possible need they had was being met. Suddenly they are thrust into a new world where they are surrounded by bright lights, stimulating shapes and objects and have the ability to move their limbs freely. Their physical connection to you has been broken and now they must learn to signal for all of their basic needs; food, sleep and comfort. Some babies will make this transition much more easily, however others may find it more difficult to adapt and will need more comfort, support and nurturing during their first few months. To begin to understand this 4thTrimester lets learn a bit more about the transition that a baby has to make so that you can support your baby the best way you can during this time.

Human babies are born premature in respect to all other mammals, possibly 3-4 months earlier than they should be. As primitive women evolved to stand up on two legs, the shape of the female pelvis narrowed resulting in babies being born earlier to enable a safe passage of the head through the pelvis. So babies are not physiologically setup for independent life which makes them much more vulnerable in their early months compared to other mammals, who are born equipped with survival instincts.  Your baby will depend on you for their basic survival and will feel the safest and the most secure when they are near you. They will need time to adjust to this new world and to give their immature systems a chance to mature.

Life in the womb was constant with the same muted sounds; dim-lit environment, continual rocking/lulling movements and your baby never knew hunger. Furled up in a secure position in a warm fluid filled environment with the familiar sounds of not only your voice but also from your heart beating, your blood flow whooshing around them and your bowel and bladder filling and emptying. Your baby had the familiar smells and taste of you from their drinking and swallowing of their amniotic fluid and all of these things gave your baby constant reassurance and comfort.

In contrast, life outside the womb is extremely stimulating. The environment is always changing with bright lights, sharp or sudden noises and unfamiliar sounds. It is a visually stimulating place for your baby with different peoples faces, toys and objects surrounding them. They are no longer in a cramped space and unless they are swaddled their ‘Startle reflex’ can wake and unsettle them. At times this new world will be too overwhelming for your baby and they will want to return to their former home and the stability that this environment gave to them.

The key to this 4thTrimester is to manage your baby as if they are still in the womb and the best way to achieve this is by replicating the environment of the womb itself. This will:

  • Help your baby to adapt from the secure environment that the womb provided to life outside the womb
  • Give your baby reassurance and security from the familiar sights, sounds, touch and smell of you
  • Trigger your baby’s ‘Calming Reflex’, a primitive response which kept them calm and relaxed while in utero

How to Replicate the Environment of the Womb:

Physical comfort and Touch: Hold your baby close to your chest with their ear against your heart, pat them and use shushing sounds e.g.: ‘whoosh whoosh’ to imitate the sounds of the womb. Babies also love to hear the soothing tone of your voice and are comforted by the familiarity of your smell. ‘Wearing your baby’ in a sling or front pack is also a very effective way to calm your baby as it closely resembles their womb like environment.

Skin-to-skin Contact: This is heaven for your baby and is such a lovely experience for you too! Being so close to you will relax and calm your baby as they hear those familiar sounds and are comforted by your smell.

Swaddling: This will give your baby the security and comfort that they remember from their time in the womb and can instantly calm them. It also reduces the chance of their ‘Startle reflex’ from being triggered by a sudden movement or sound.

Sucking: When babies are unsettled they instinctively want to suck. Sucking has a deep effect within the nervous system triggering your baby’s ‘calming reflex’ by releasing opiate like chemicals that saturate their brain and naturally reduces their stress levels. Offering the breast, a pacifier (only once your milk supply is well established) or even a clean little finger can work like magic.

Movement: The womb was a constantly moving space. Every time you moved, your baby was moved and this movement reassured and comforted them. So swaying, rocking and jiggling your baby works very effectively to calm babies when they are unsettled.

Rhythmic NoisesBabies love sound so contrary to common belief, babies sleep better with noise as they are simply not used to a quiet environment. For the past 9 months they have been hearing loud sounds in the womb with studies confirming that a baby is exposed to up to 90db of noise – that’s louder than a vacuum cleaner or a bulldozer idling! So playing white noise while your baby is settling and sleeping is very effective as it not only blocks out any sudden background noise but it also provides a positive sleep association for your baby. Research has shown that babies settle more quickly and sleep more deeply when they are exposed to white noise.

Create a Calm Dim-lit Environment: Calming or settling your baby to sleep in a dim-lit room has been shown to be more effective for most babies. Managing your baby’s environment is also very important to prevent your baby from becoming over tired or over stimulated.

 

The best advice that I can give you during this 4thTrimester is ‘If your baby is unsettled and you have ruled out hunger, then assume that your baby is missing the womb and place them back into their womb like environment. By providing your baby with the security that the womb offered, you will not only be giving your baby reassurance, comfort and security but you will also be creating a confident, secure and trusting individual.

 

I hope all is going well for you and your baby but please feel free to contact me at anytime if you feel you need some further support or advice.

Elysia x

 

 

Elysia GobbieThe 4th Trimester – A Time for Nurturing.
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Advice for Mums…Knowledge, Instincts, Keeping things Simple, Common Sense and Trial and Error

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310710137Having a baby and becoming a parent is such an exciting time in your life, full of precious moments that you will treasure forever. It is life changing and probably one of the toughest things that you will ever do though undoubtedly it will be the most rewarding.

You will learn so much about yourself during this journey. You will have a new respect for your own body and what it is capable of. You will experience exhaustion like you’ve never known and will discover an inner strength that you never realised you had. Motherhood is a beautiful and powerful experience but it can be really tough at times and it may not come naturally or easily to some women. Some women have never had anything to do with babies before they have their own, while others have been surrounded by babies all their life. However it does not make you immune to the challenges that some babies bring the more babies you have had either as every baby is different.

At times you are going to feel stressed, exhausted, anxious and confused by this little person and all their needs. The constant changes that you will face can be challenging. You just get a grasp of one stage only for it to change. This can be tough for a first time Mum, as probably up until now you have had quite a bit of control over your own life. Suddenly you have this little person who is totally dependent upon you and this can sometimes feel really overwhelming.

You will be offered a lot of well-intentioned advice from people around you, which can sometimes cause you even more confusion and bewilderment. Listen to people whom you trust and that you know their advice is based on good experience and evidence-based knowledge. Knowledge is power and will not only help you to make informed decisions but it will give you a good understanding of what to expect, setting you up with a healthy mind set and allowing you to relax and really enjoy this precious time. By understanding your baby’s needs, you will feel so much more confident and be prepared for the challenges that you will face along the way.

Babies are much more resilient than you think so are very forgiving with the many mistakes that we make as parents. There is no right or wrong way of doing things, just easier ways and more difficult ways and there is no such thing as a perfect mother and accepting that you can’t be perfect is really important. Every baby is so different so keep things simple, trust your instincts and common sense and with a bit of trial and error you will start to work out what will be best for ‘you and your’ baby. This time will go by so quickly, so look after yourself, love and nurture your baby and try to enjoy this special time in your life.

I hope all is going well for you and your baby but please feel free to contact me at anytime if you have any concerns.

Elysia x

Elysia GobbieAdvice for Mums…Knowledge, Instincts, Keeping things Simple, Common Sense and Trial and Error
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