The Benefits of Skin-to-Skin
Becoming a parent involves making important decisions about caring for your new baby. One of the simplest ways to care for your baby right after delivery is by placing baby skin-to-skin on mom’s chest. Skin-to-skin contact is described as placing baby belly-down on mom’s chest with baby’s head gently turned to the side, where mom can see baby easily breathing. It has the best benefits when initiated within 1-2 hours following birth, but it can be done at any time by Mom or Dad after baby is born. The following are some of the benefits of skin-to-skin for mom and baby:
- It calms and regulates heart function: While lying on mom’s chest, baby hears mom’s heartbeat which is a soothing and familiar sound
- Skin-to-skin contact stabilizes baby’s blood sugar- Newborns are at increased risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and skin-to-skin contact helps prevent baby’s blood sugar from plummeting
- It stabilizes body temperature-While in mom’s uterus, baby is is kept in a constant, warm environment. Once delivered, this temperature change is a big shock to a newborn. Newborn babies are at a high risk for temperature instability. Mom’s hormones cause her to be warm after giving birth, and by placing baby directly on her chest, baby absorbs her warmth, and this regulates baby’s body temperature. Mom also cools down since she transfers heat to baby
- Another important benefit of skin-to-skin contact is by aiding in breastfeeding initiation. While lying on mom’s chest, baby smells mom’s breast milk and instinctively begins to move and turn his/her head toward the skin that touches their face, trying to locate mom’s breast(also known as rooting). Skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth helps increase mom’s flow of Colostrum(pre-breast milk loaded with nutrients that protect baby). This also helps to build up mom’s milk supply and lengthens the time she breastfeeds
- Helps baby cry less – Placing baby skin-to-skin on mom’s chest after birth, and hearing mom’s soothing voice and heartbeat provides a comfortable reminder of the home they once occupied in mom’s uterus
- Strengthens mom and baby bonding – Skin-to-skin is the perfect time for mom to start bonding with her baby and observing baby’s features and uniqueness
- Boosts baby’s immune system – Once baby is born, skin-to-skin contact helps baby get friendly bacteria from mom’s body that provides immunities and protection against illness and diseases
- Reduces risk of Post Partum Depression – Skin-to-skin contact can lower mom’s risk of suffering from Post Partum Depression. This occurs due to hormones being released that decrease mom’s stress, and increases and stimulates healing throughout mom’s body.
- Helps dads to bond with baby- Sometimes dads feel left out when a baby is born and Mom is breastfeeding. Dad can provide much needed help to Mom and can also do skin-to-skin contact with baby. In fact, dads enjoy cuddling and skin-to-skin is a great time for bonding with baby
Skin-to-skin contact can provide mom and baby with many benefits as well as being enjoyable for dads too!
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