Ask if your baby can be delivered to your chest (umbilical cord intact for a few minutes, if possible). If so, request help unwrapping the baby at least partially for skin to skin contact. If not, ask your doctor or nurse to show you your baby before she goes to the warmer. Your partner can join the baby at the warmer as soon as the nurse or pediatrician gives the go-ahead.
When the baby comes back from the warmer, your partner can unwrap the baby and hold her against your body skin to skin. If the baby is close to your breast, she may start suckling almost right away. If not, you can hand express some milk (or request some help from your partner) and put it on your baby’s lips.
“The pediatrician took my son and examined him as he let out a heartfelt cry. I watched, and after a few minutes, I could tell that the pediatrician was done with his procedures, so I asked if they could place him on me for skin to skin. Although the pediatrician had been prepped that this was the plan, he looked dumbfounded and said, ‘I’ve never done skin on skin in the operating room.’ My doctor stated confidently, ‘That’s what we’re doing!’ The nurse piped in, ‘I have!’ and whisked my son from the doctor and placed him on my chest.” Athena Reich
“Greg knew how important skin to skin contact was to me, so as soon as they handed him the baby in the operating room, he stuffed him into his scrubs, right onto his naked chest. The nurses were horrified he didn’t wear a shirt underneath but at least the baby got some of our bacteria! Greg also had the gauze with vaginal fluids in a plastic bag that we sneaked in his pocket and he swabbed the baby’s face when no one was looking.” Natasha
A Note for Partners on Skin to Skin
As soon as you have the opportunity, and whenever you can throughout the recovery period, slip your baby into or under your shirt and hold your baby skin to skin. Additionally, make it a top priority to help your partner hold the baby skin to skin whenever she can, for as long as she can. The research on skin to skin contact between a baby and her parents is overwhelmingly positive. Skin to skin helps regulate blood sugar and body temperature and enhances immunities. It calms your baby and helps your baby sleep deeply. It enhances bonding and brain development for everyone involved. What’s not to love about having your little sweet-pea snuggled against you skin to skin?
See “After Your Baby is Born” for an extensive discussion of the benefits of skin to skin following a cesarean, including an interview with author and doula Jill Bergman on the practicalities of skin to skin care post-cesarean.