I recently had the opportunity to attend Nil Bergman's Seminar on skin to skin and what the neuroscience is saying. He talked about critical periods in neuro-development, the first being to ensure that the baby is never separated from the mother during the initial 18 hours after birth. He talks about the colostrum response only being present for the first 18 hours of life and the importance of your smell, ' a mother's smell tells the baby its safe enough sleep (Schaal 2004). Nil says sleep is the most important thing for neuro-development.
This suggests your baby should be skin to skin with you most of the time and within smelling distance of you when they are not. There are however, occasions where babies need to be closely monitored in Special Care or NICU but always be aware that your presence is more important to your baby than anything else. Therefore, where possible, as Nil's research suggests, your baby needs, your smell, your touch, your voice, your colostrum and for you to be close by. If your baby is born prematurely it is even more important for your baby to be skin to skin or otherwise known as 'kangaroo care' as often as possible. One hour of skin to skin a day is not enough according to Bergman. If there is a situation where you can not do this then it is recommended that your partner be skin to skin often until you can.