Skin to skin contact means when baby is placed directly onto mum or dad’s chest. Laying your baby on your chest with no blankets, no wraps or clothes has shown to have many benefits for them and for you.
Of course there are sometimes medical reasons where mum and baby cannot be together immediately after birth. But skin to skin contact should be initiated by both mum and dad when it is possible. As well as that, skin to skin contact is not only for immediately after birth – it is something that can be continued in the hours, days and months following your baby’s arrival.
Here are just some of the benefits of skin to skin:
Bonding with mum & dad
Your baby bonds with you after birth through smell and touch and their senses are programmed to respond to your unique smell and the feel of your bare skin. This is also a really important way for Dad to bond with baby. They will recognise Dad’s voice from their time in the womb so talk to them softly. This will help to calm them and the cuddles will allow you to get to know each other.
It helps baby to adapt to the outside world
When they were in the womb, your baby didn’t have to worry about regulating their temperature. But now their body has to get used to doing that for them. As your skin will be a similar temperature to the environment of the womb, this is the best way to help them with the transition. Skin to skin contact has also shown to help regulate heart rate, breathing and to reduce stress. Your baby is used to the warm environment of the womb where they could hear your heartbeat to soothe them. So this is a great way to keep them calm as they get used to their new world.
It is a great way to keep them calm as they get used to their new world
Baby is less likely to cry
Studies have shown that babies who regularly enjoy skin to skin contact are less likely to cry. This is becasue they can feel comforted by the skin to skin touch and they know that there is someone there to protect them – it does make sense when you think about it. This in turn results in less stress for you as new parents.
Reduced incidence of post-partum depression
Although there are many factors which play a role in post-partum depression, research has shown that holding, snuggling, kissing and feeling the warmth of their newborn baby on their skin all stimulate hormones which reinforce feelings of wellbeing for mum.
It can help with breastfeeding
Your newborn has a heightened sense of smell. Having them on your chest will help baby to seek out your nipple naturally and to begin breastfeeding. Studies have also found that baby is more likely to latch on and more likely to breastfeed for longer if skin to skin contact has been initiated. And for mum, having baby close by helps milk production.