Bringing a new baby into the world is a momentous occasion filled with wonder and joy. As parents, you have the incredible opportunity to create a strong foundation of love and care right from the start. One of the most beautiful ways to foster this connection is through skin-to-skin contact with your little one not only as a newborn but for the weeks to follow.
So what is skin-to-skin contact anyway?
Skin-to-skin contact involves holding your newborn directly against your bare chest shortly after birth and in the following weeks. This practice mimics the warmth and closeness of the womb, providing a comforting transition for your baby into the outside world. This practice evolved in South America in the 1970’s by two physicians in Bogota, Colombia. There weren’t enough incubators to care for all the premature babies in their hospital so they placed the tiny babies directly onto their mothers’ bodies with them both covered in a wrap. This allowed the mother’s body heat to warm the baby. The babies thrived with this method and it became known as the “Kangaroo Mother Method”. It was later shortened to “Kangaroo Care” and has been primarily associated with skin-to-skin.
Did you know it enhances bonding?
Skin-to-skin contact fosters an immediate deep emotional connection between parents and newborns. The physical closeness releases oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone”, which promotes feelings of affection and attachment. It also helps the uterus contract, which reduces bleeding. With research continuing to show how crucial that initial moment is for both newborns and parents, hospitals are now working to make this possible even in cases of cesarean section as well as stable NICU babies.
Keep that body temperature regulated!
Newborns have a limited ability to regulate their body temperatures. Skin-to-skin contact helps to stabilize their temperature by using the parent’s body warmth as a natural source of heat. The warmth comforts the baby and results in less crying and lower rates of hypoglycemia. You’re like your baby's own heating pad.
Let’s talk about a stressful situation.
The world can be overwhelming for a newborn, but being held against a parent’s chest can provide a sense of security and calmness. This gentle touch lowers stress hormones in both the parents and the baby, creating a peaceful environment.
Benefit for breastfeeding mothers!
For breastfeeding mothers, skin-to-skin contact can significantly boost the initiation and success of breastfeeding. It enables mothers and babies to recognize each other’s unique scent which in turn helps stimulate the baby’s natural instincts to find the breast, promoting a successful latch.
An added immune boost.
During skin-to-skin contact, the baby is exposed to the parent’s healthy bateria, which helps strengthen the newborn’s immune system and provides protection against illness.
There’s even heart and respiratory benefits!
Skin-to-skin contact has been shown to stabilize a newborn’s heart rate and respiratory patterns. It’s particularly beneficial for premature babies, aiding in their development and recovery.
Don’t worry dad’s or partners, we didn’t forget about you.
Skin-to-skin contact isn’t limited to just moms. The other parent can enjoy this beautiful bonding experience that allows them to establish a strong connection with their newborn.
Incorporating skin-to-skin contact into your early interactions with your newborn is a powerful way to create a foundation of love, trust and security. This practice offers a multitude of benefits, from emotional bonding to physical well-being. As parents, you have the incredible opportunity to give your child the best start in life through the simple act of holding them close against your skin.
Remember, the benefits of skin-to-skin contact are immeasurable and enduring, setting the stage for a lifetime of love and connection between you and your precious bundle of joy.