When Ezra was born I will forever remember him being laid on my chest and feeling his warm, soft, silky skin against mine. The marathon of labour was done and I felt euphoric that I had had such a positive experience after the trauma of Violet’s birth.
Through eyes filled with happy tears, Joe and I stared at our new baby boy. Those first few moments were just incredible. This baby had been part of our mind and hearts for the past 9 months (and our dreams for a lot longer), we had seen him wiggling and kicking in my belly and despite loving him so much we were only just meeting him for the first time! For both of my children I felt wonderment that I made a whole human! It wasn’t an alien in there as I had imagined but a person with life spread out in front of them.
I was lucky to have a straightforward birth with Ezra and was able to cuddle him for ages. He felt so warm and new on my chest. I stroked his body, kissed his head, encouraged him to hold my fingers. He was so so calm. Opening his eyes occasionally and blinking back against the light. I was in heaven. Pure happiness was coursing through my body. The love hit me like a thunderclap.
It came for me to be stitched and I needed the Entonox so Joe got to have cuddles and bond with our son. Once the midwife had finished I showered (that has to be the best shower ever). When I came back into the room it was time to feed Ezra. My breastfeeding journey was a complicated mess with Violet so I needed the support with Ezra. I wasn’t shy in asking anyone who would listen if we were feeding correctly. It felt so strange but we were doing it! We had to stay in the hospital for 12 hours for monitoring (I was Group B Strep+) and I spent the whole time holding Ezra and having skin-to-skin. I couldn’t stop looking at him! When he stirred he would feed and then relax into sleep again. Ezra remained calm and peaceful. I felt so in-tune with him. Confident in myself. Powerful.
Once we were home the days passed quickly. We had to get Ezra to settle into our routine with Violet. I remember feeling so powerfully connected to Ezra, almost as if a magnet was pulling us together. When I wasn’t cuddling him I felt like I wanted to at least hold his hand or stroke his cheek. Even during the exhausting night feeds I felt happy that I could hold my baby again. It’s like that funny scene in Friends where Rachel looks at baby Emma in the moses basket and says to Phoebe “right now I miss her” and Phoebe says “but you know she’s right there”. That was me! This feeling lasted and I just could not put my finger on why.
It was only during a wonderful post-natal massage when Ezra was about 5 months old that everything slotted into place. The massage therapist (also a practicing midwife) asked me if I had had skin-to-skin after Ezra was born. She explained that the first skin-to-skin contact with Ezra would have triggered a powerful hormonal response in me. Ezra was my very own Oxytocin hit!
Ezra is now 10 months old and a couple of nights ago when I put him to bed he started to cry. I picked him up but he didn’t stop crying. I offered milk but he refused. Then I put him to my shoulder and pressed my cheek against his. He settled immediately. Once again I felt that rush flow through me and I was reminded of our powerful bond.
Ezra responding so beautifully to my touch prompted me to think about skin-to-skin further. My research has suggested the benefits are:
- The contact helps to regulate the baby’s temperature, breathing, heartbeat and blood-sugar.
- The baby will be able to hear the mother’s heartbeat – a sound they have heard from the uterus for so long. Familiar sounds like the heartbeat will enable baby to remain calm and not feel stressed.
- Being in immediate close contact to the mother’s (or father’s) skin allows baby to pick up friendly bacteria and help prevent infections.
- Holding your baby skin-to-skin will help to encourage loving feelings thanks to the oxytocin hormone which will be released.
- Skin-to-skin can help encourage baby to breastfeed and stimulate faster milk production.
I am a complete advocate of skin-to-skin after birth (where it is possible). It’s something I wasn’t able to do with Violet as it was a long and traumatic birth. When friends have asked me about birth or about writing their birth-plans I have strongly advised them to include skin-to-skin. Holding Ezra for those first few hours has undoubtedly help forge a powerful bond between the two of us. I have no doubt that his easy birth had a huge part to play also. I just wonder how much longer I’ll feel the need to press my cheek against his – he probably won’t be so up for it when he’s 16!!
Were you able to have skin-to-skin after giving birth? How did it make you feel? Pop a comment below and let me know.