Birth Motherhood

The importance of skin to skin contact with your baby

Skin to skin is an important practice from birth and onwards which benefits not only your newborn baby but also you and your partner and in extent your whole family.

Imagine spending your time in your safe place, whatever this might be, your home, the arms of a loved one, and suddenly you find yourself in a completely new environment. You would probably experience some kind of stress. Let’s now imaging your baby inside the womb.  A safe  and warm environment with abundance of nutrients from the mother’s body. But everything changes with labor. Your baby finds its way out of the womb through a somewhat stressful process, that of labor, and lands in your arms. But in order for your baby to feelsecure again, it must be held in close to your heart, close to your skin, to feel your warmth, to smell you. Skin to skin contact helps your baby’s body stabilise its temperature, breathing and heart rate. Skin to skin can be practiced by both parents for as long as possible, especially in cases when there are complications during labor and the mother is unable to hold her baby for some time. But the father can practice skin to skin as a way to start bonding with the baby immediately after birth.

Studies have shown that skin to skin can be extremely beneficial for premature babies or in general babies who have been in a neonatal intensive care unit and that the benefits will persist for life. Researchers have found that babies who have received skin to skin contact with their parents, demonstrated enhanced cognitive development, reduced anxiety and better maternal attachment behaviour.

Below we list the most important benefits of skin to skin contact with your baby:

  • Improves baby’s heart rate and lung function
  • Helps stabilize the baby’s body temperature
  • Helps regulate baby’s blood sugar
  • Helps establish breastfeeding
  • Promotes the transfer of good bacteria from mother to baby
  • Calms the baby and reduces crying
  • Provides pain relief
  • Bonds mother and baby, father and baby and their in between communication
  • Provides an easier transition from the womb to the new environment
  • Enhances your baby’s development

Sources: Babygooroo, Parents.com, BabyCenter

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