Why I Created A Hug Plan and You Should Too
To celebrate National Hugging Day (Jan. 21), I hugged my baby boy and reminisced about our very first hug when he arrived this past September. I am so glad that I was able to use the Hug Plan to ensure we connected skin-to-skin in those first precious moments of my baby’s life.
I was first introduced to the Huggies Hug Plan this past summer when I interviewed Dr. Christine Chambers and Dr. Marsha Campbell-Yeo about the power of hugs. These medical experts (and mothers) reviewed hundreds of scientific papers on skin-to-skin and wanted to promote the benefits of skin-to-skin hugs for babies.
What is a Hug Plan?
Cue the creation of the Hug Plan; an extension to the birth plan that focuses on the immediate moments post-delivery. According to the studies behind the Hug Plan, continued skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby can lead to less postpartum depression, a greater exchange of sleep, and babies that cry less. The best part of skin-to-skin is that it can never be overdone. Hugging baby helps mother and baby understand each other and bond.
You can read these facts and more in this white paper on ‘The Power of Touch for Babies’ here.
I was mid pregnancy when I discovered this research by Dr. Chambers & Dr. Campbell-Yeo and had just started to think about labour, and how I wanted to bring my little one into the world. It was the perfect time for me to develop my own Hug Plan to ensure we were prepared for baby’s first hug.
My Hug Plan
I used a midwife, as opposed to an OB-GYN, and she was very supportive of immediate skin-to-skin after delivery. It was part of her practice to ensure that baby and mother were connected as soon as possible. Together, we went through my Hug Plan and made decisions such as placing the baby on my stomach before the cord was cut and he was cleaned off, and designating my husband as the alternate hugger should I be unavailable for whatever reason.
I was very lucky in labour. Although I was mentally prepared to do whatever it took to deliver a happy and healthy baby, I gave birth naturally on September 21st at 11:21 pm. My entire labour lasted 17 hours but active labour (the super painful part) only lasted 5 hours with 50 minutes of pushing. I laboured the majority of the day at home while watching a Blue Jays playoff game (they lost), and headed to the hospital about 2 hours before I actually gave birth. It was the most exhilarating, painful, overwhelming, terrifying, and amazing experience of my entire life.
Our Skin-To-Skin Experience
As we had decided, my baby was placed directly on my chest after he was born. I stared down at him, mouth open, and he stared right back at me. We just lay there looking at one another - My husband leaned over and kissed us both. For the next hour, I held my son on my bare chest, adrenaline-fuelled and overcome with emotion as I attempted to comprehend the overwhelming reality of what had just occurred. Having my little man on my chest calmed me (and him), and when he began to root for something to eat, breastfeeding and latching seemed to come naturally.
Over the next few weeks, I continued to practice skin-to-skin. I held the baby on my chest constantly and for a while, he would only sleep soundly on my husband or me. The baby never seemed to cry extensively, he breastfed easily, gained weight beautifully and according to our midwife, was the perfect baby. Holding him close seemed to (and still does) calm us both.
As I have said before, I was very lucky in my labour and in my mothering experience thus far. Although the first three months were very, very difficult emotionally, I feel as though having my baby close and practicing skin-to-skin helped me cope with some of the intense post-partum anxiety, mine and the baby’s ability to physically adjust to one another, as well as establishing the synched emotional connection that we now enjoy.
My Husband and Skin-to-Skin
My husband also practiced skin-to-skin with our son. At the hospital, my husband removed his shirt and held our son, also overwhelmed with the emotion of meeting his new baby boy. At home, he would also sleep with the baby on his chest and often wore our son around the house in a wrap or carrier. Both he and the baby seemed comfortable and content being so close and to this day, my husband loves putting our son in the carrier and wearing him for walks, naps or just around the house.
Writing Your Own Hug Plan
From my experience, having a Hug Plan and practicing skin-to-skin has been emotionally and physically beneficial for my family. I am so happy to have had those precious moments with my son right after his delivery and to continue our bonding experience with skin-to-skin.
You can download your own copy of the Hug Plan here to prepare for your first hug with baby.
Share this article with another ‘Mom-to-be’ to help her create her own Hug Plan or share your own skin-to-skin experience online using #NoBabyUnhugged.