At Bradford Royal Infirmary, we’re working towards gaining Baby Friendly Initiative (UNICEF*) Accreditation Level 3 – which means we support women to build a responsive relationship with their baby before and after birth by providing evidence-based information and demonstrating the skills needed for soon-to-be and new mums to make the best choices for their babies.
We work to support all families to develop close and loving relationships with their newborn and to understand the importance of this for their baby’s development. For example, in Baby Friendly hospitals, mothers and babies now routinely stay together in the immediate post-birth period, helping to get their relationship off to a good start.
The Baby Friendly Initiative offers an evidence-based approach to supporting breastfeeding and good infant nutrition, and helping parents to develop close and loving relationships with their babies.
There’s strong evidence for the Baby Friendly programme as a key intervention for supporting breastfeeding. Studies looking at the impact on UK breastfeeding rates have shown that giving birth in a Baby Friendly facility increases breastfeeding initiation and continuation.
We support you to document in your birth plan (or discuss with your midwife) if you’d like to have skin-to-skin contact immediately after the birth – it doesn’t matter what type of birth brings you to having your baby in your arms; skin-to-skin will be offered (unless there is a clinical need for support of mother or baby.
Skin-to-skin contact helps babies to adapt to being outside their mother’s body; keeping baby’s heartrate, temperature and breathing regular – while also being the best environment for baby to ‘learn’ how to breastfeed.
Skin-to-skin for the first feed (whether that feed is breast or bottle) enables baby to feel calm and learn where their nurturing and nutrition comes from. AND, skin-to-skin is proven to reduce the stress hormone (cortisol) in both mum and baby by an incredible 75 per cent!
So, irrespective of mum’s feeding intention, to have skin to skin is essential for a gentle introduction to the baby’s new environment.