Nobody loves the skin you’re in as much as your newborn. When it comes to the first few minutes after birth, your baby instinctually wants to go back to her natural habitat-you! The more skin to skin contact you and your baby have, the better off you both are.
In this article…
- What’s the Big Deal About Skin to Skin Contact?
- More! More! (What Your Baby Would Say If She Could)
- Bonding Beautifully by Breastfeeding
There’s simply no feeling quite like holding your baby for the very first time. The way she looks up at you as you stare into her tiny face is indescribably joyous. As it turns out Mother Nature in her infinite wisdom also designed those first few moments of snuggling to include a wealth of health benefits for both baby and mommy.
What’s The Big Deal About Skin-to-Skin Contact?
Skin-to-Skin contact refers to the first moments, hours and days after your baby is born. Extensive research shows that babies, like any mammal, experience stress when removed from their natural habitat. For newborns, that natural habitat is their mom and the immediate separation that’s typical in most U.S. hospitals may not be as ideal as some time spent snuggling together. Within the first hour after birth, babies placed on their mothers show nine distinct stages of bonding including relaxation, crawling (Yes! A newborn will actually wiggle towards the breast!) and rooting to suckle. When you think about it, it’s nothing short of amazing.
Skin to skin describes the benefits created by simply touching your newborn’s skin. Whether cradling their naked body against your bare skin or caressing your baby’s skin with your hands, there is a veritable mountain of clinical evidence that illustrates skin to skin contact is important for the physical, emotional and developmental health of your child. Choosing skin care products that support and encourage skin to skin moments with ingredients that promote the health of skin and body like essential fatty acids and probiotics can enhance these benefits.
More! More! What Your Baby Would Say if She Could
Your baby instinctively knows that a cozy snuggle with you is the best place he could be. In the first few weeks after birth, babies cannot yet regulate their body temperature which is why we tuck them under a blanket even on a warm day. A skin to skin snuggle with your baby can help maintain a normal body temperature for your little one by helping to prevent heat loss. Amazingly, the temperature of your breasts will actually adjust up and down to help regulate baby’s body temperature during skin to skin contact. And the comforting closeness to Mom helps bring baby’s heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rates back to normal after the stimulation of being born. When your baby feels calmer, he will also sleep better which is good for both of you. Studies have even shown that brain development is enhanced in babies who had lots of skin to skin contact in those early hours and weeks after being born.
Bonding Beautifully by Breastfeeding
The more you hold your new baby close to you, the more likely he is to be able to find his favorite food source. Studies have shown that babies who have early and frequent skin to skin contact are more likely to latch on for breastfeeding. Babies who latch well have an easier time getting full and their feeding is less likely to cause soreness or discomfort in mom. The milk supply also tends to be more plentiful as close contact with your baby will also increase the amount of prolactin produced, which is the main hormone responsible for milk production.
Even if you are not a breastfeeding parent there are still plenty of bonding and other emotional benefits to be had from close cuddles with your little one. All babies benefit from skin to skin contact with their parents. Both moms and dads will experience a special bond with their baby right from the very start. As baby gets older, there are plenty of opportunities for parents to share increased skin to skin contact time, through baby massage, giving baby a bath, taking a snuggled snooze or just playing simple games together (Peek-A-Boo!)
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