How skin-to-skin cuddles will help Prince Harry and Meghan’s healthy 7lb 3oz boy adjust to life outside the womb by regulating his heartbeat, temperature and breathing, expert reveals
- Meghan went into labour this morning and gave birth to a boy at 5.26am
- Kangaroo care is when the baby is cuddled on their parent’s bare chest
- The NHS says that it helps regulate a baby’s heartbeat and temperature
- Val Willcox is an antenatal teacher at the National Childbirth Trust (NCT)
- She said kangaroo care ‘really helps’ the baby adjust to life outside the womb
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been urged to cuddle their newborn son on their bare chests to help him adjust to life outside the womb.
Meghan went into labour in the early hours of this morning and gave birth to a boy weighing 7lbs 3oz at 5.26am, having been more than a week overdue.
Val Willcox, an antenatal teacher at the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), has urged the royals to get to know their new arrival through skin-to-skin contact.
Kangaroo care, where the baby is cuddled on a parent’s bare chest, is one of the best ways of bonding with a baby soon after their birth, she said.
The NHS states it has been found to help calm and soothe a baby, regulating their heartbeat, temperature and breathing.
Ms Willcox said: ‘If Meghan’s able to do skin-to-skin, we know that that really helps with the baby adjusting to life outside of the womb.
Speaking hours after his wife went into labour, an overjoyed Prince Harry (pictured) revealed that his wife had given birth to a healthy baby boy this morning
Meghan is pictured at King’s College, London in March (left) and with Harry at at Buckingham Palace in the same month (right)
The birth was officially announced on the Instagram page of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex this afternoon, after Meghan went into labour in the early hours of today
‘It also helps the mother, if Meghan is intending to breastfeed.
‘Lots of early skin-to-skin between the mother and baby can really help with getting breastfeeding off to a good start.’
The concept, which is often used for premature babies, will also help Harry develop his own bond with his child, and is beneficial for the baby too.
‘Harry can also do skin-to-skin with the baby if he wants. It will help calm and soothe the baby and help the baby regulate their temperature and heart rate,’ said Ms Willcox.
She added: ‘I encourage couples to spend a lot of time cuddling and holding their baby. You can’t spoil a newborn baby.
‘Rather than Harry thinking that the only thing he can do is changing dirty nappies, actually, if he spends a lot of time soothing and comforting and cuddling his baby, it really helps build that early initial bond between the baby and the baby’s primary caregivers.’
A visibly-excited Prince Harry shared news of the birth were the world’s media in Windsor today, prompting wellwishes from all members of the royal family
The new baby with live at Frogmore Cottage with first-time-parents Harry and Meghan, with her mother Doria having flown in
Royal super fans John Loughery and Anne Daley pose with Union flags and baby-themed balloons as they wait near Windsor Castle for news of the birth today
Ms Willcox advised the duke to help wind the baby and to ensure both he and the duchess get plenty of rest and nutritious food.
‘It’s about dividing the load between them of caring for the baby and making sure each other gets the opportunity to rest,’ she said.
‘Harry can make sure that Meghan gets good stuff to eat and drink, as well as making sure that he’s feeding himself as well – probably a bit easier if you’re a member of the royal family.
‘You’ve probably got a bit more help around you than some of us get.’
Encouraging the new royal parents to take the time out to cuddle their baby, she said: ‘If you’re sat one afternoon with your baby on your chest while your baby is having a little nap and you’re just sitting counting every eyelash and every hair on the baby’s head, that’s absolutely fine.
‘That’s part of getting to know your baby.’
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SKIN-TO-SKIN CARE?
Skin-to-skin care is a ‘really good way’ for mother and father to get to know their new child, the NHS says.
In guidance issued to new parents, the health service states it can regulate a baby’s heartbeat by calming then down and soothing them.
It can also control their temperature, by keeping them warm, and breathing, also by calming and soothing them.
The guidance also says it will help the baby feel safe and secure, surrounding them with smells, sounds and sensations they are used to.
Evidence also shows skin-to-skin contact can reduce stress, by releasing calming hormones, and helps them become less ‘clingy’.
Unicef says it also stimulates digestion and allows the baby to build-up an immunity to some infections by being exposed to their mother’s friendly bacteria.
DOES IT ALSO HELP THE MOTHER AND FATHER?
The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust says kangaroo care, as it is known, can also regulate a mother’s heartbeat and breathing.
It also develops their relationship with their new baby and encourages the release of hormones that can stimulate the production of breast milk.
For the father, skin-to-skin contact can also calm them, help them bond with the baby and gives the mother a rest, the NHS says.
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