I will admit I get some criticism as a lactation consultant and postpartum doula for advocating swaddling for newborns. People think I should only advocate skin to skin--which I totally support! (Except when mama needs to be dressed, and then there are many shirts and babywearing devices that help with this.)
I also help a lot of parents who are nurturing their babies so well but just want to be able to put them down on their backs to sleep at night (like the Pediatrician has told them to). I only teach parents to swaddle when their baby is well fed, and it is time for sleep. (If you want a safe swaddle for newborns that won’t hide their feeding cues, check out http://www.7swaddles.com/feeding-cues-swaddle/.)
Since some of our families co-sleep many don’t need swaddling, but for most everyone else it helps tremendously to get baby to enjoy sleeping on his or her back vs. only being held…not that there’s anything wrong with always being held! (Especially in the beginning when babies are used to LIVING inside your body).
So why the FIRST HOUR SWADDLE? Well, it really isn’t a swaddle, but it is what we teach as the first way you can wrap a baby in a blanket. Don’t shoot me down yet…we are basically wrapping baby up in mom’s skin with the blanket over both. Nothing between mom and baby but maybe the diaper. Baby has unrestricted access to the breast, mom’s warmth, smell, skin, etc. All the wonderful regulatory behavior that babies need in those early days (and beyond) gets to happen regardless of the room’s contents.
Here is how we teach this; baby is born, comes right up to mom after the cord is done pulsing, and is dried on mom’s chest (or another parent’s if mom is not able). Once baby has gotten settled, we take a corner fold and wrap the baby and mom together so that everyone is covered, with the wings of the blanket tucked under each of mama’s arms, and the bottom tucked underneath baby.
What does this provide? Privacy and warmth are the biggest benefits. Many women are comfortable nursing their babies in that first hour with no coverage, and kudos to them! You just had your most intimate parts displayed for many, so are nipples really a big deal? Not for most of us birthy folks, but sometimes other people don’t see it our way.
And what if you have other people who are present in your room? What if people pop in to visit and didn’t expect to see your entire front side while baby learns to latch on?
Yes, we encourage couples to keep that first hour intimate; just mom and partner and baby (and birth staff as needed). But that isn’t always the case and some people need a solution to not compromise the baby’s needs and also be able to take photos we can post on Facebook that night!
Enter the First Hour Swaddle. Baby gets all of mom, mom gets privacy, and warmth is shared between them. Blanket is tucked, secure, and not interfering.
Maybe everyone already does this, but when we teach this to pregnant couples they start talking about who gets to come to the birth, who gets to wait until that first feed before meeting baby, and who the nursing staff might be helpful to escort out of the room. I think those are valuable discussion topics—especially ahead of time!
And if you need a solution in case you have unexpected visitors? Well, now you know the First Hour Swaddle.
I guess could just as easily called it the No Nipples Showing Swaddle…just thought that might get censored by FB…or get me some bad spam!
I learned this from the amazing Laurel Wilson (author of The Greatest Pregnancy Ever) at my CLE training with CAPPA, and it has become a staple in my classes every since. Let me know if you used this technique and if it helped you.
If you need your heart melted just a bit, I have a lovely feed of these photos on the ABC Doula Service FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/ABCDoula?fref=nf (look for March 29 photo request).
I hope the First Hour Swaddle helps someone you know!