You will spend lots of time holding your baby—to comfort her, to move her from one place to another, and just to enjoy being close to her. This is one of the ways you and your husband bond with your baby. Go ahead and let friends and family hold your baby as well. It's important that she come to know all the people in her life from an early age.
Plagiocephaly is a condition in which a baby develops a flat spot on the back or side of her head from too much pressure there. This usually happens if a baby spends every night and too many hours of the day lying in any one position. To help prevent this, carry your baby using a variety of different holds and promote tummy time during play periods. If your baby does develop a flat spot, take her to the pediatrician right away.
Your baby will likely be given to you to hold close to your body as soon as she is born. This is because skin-to-skin contact with you has important benefits, including warming her and helping her to regulate her breathing. However, this contact is not only important on the day of birth; its value holds true throughout infancy. So, take some time each day to hold your baby close to your bare skin during those first few months. Your baby will enjoy the warmth of your body and the sound of your heartbeat, and you'll love the soft sensation of contact with your baby.
Dads should also take time to enjoy skin-to-skin contact with their babies. A mother already has a deep connection with her child from giving birth, and skin-to-skin contact can help a father establish a similarly strong relationship with the baby. In a parent's arms, a baby feels completely safe and comfortable.
Holding a baby comes quite naturally to most new mothers. It's likely that you will inherently know which body parts need the most support. However, there is more than one way to hold your baby. Some holds are one-handed, allowing you to use your free hand for something else. Some holds give the baby a view of the world around him, and others give him a direct view of your face.
Though you will surely discover other useful options through your experience as a parent, here are a few basic holds you can use with your baby:
Cradle Hold: This position is commonly used for nursing. Your baby's head goes in the crook of your arm, and you extend your forearm along the baby's back, supporting her bottom with the palm of your hand.
Shoulder Carry: This hold is great for calming a fussy baby. Just rest your baby's head on your shoulder, hold the baby's lower back and bottom with that arm, and stabilize the baby's head with your other hand.
Football Hold: With your dominant hand faceup and at your side, place the back of your baby's head in your palm and support her body with your forearm, holding her close to the side of your body. This is a great position for nursing after a cesarean because the baby is not hovering around your scar.
Hip Carry: This position is for older babies who can hold up their own heads. Rest your baby's bottom on your hip bone so she is facing outward and wrap that arm around the baby's body. This keeps your other arm totally free for another task.