Congrats! You just gave birth and have waited nine long months to meet your new baby! So, what is the first thing you should do? Take photos? Eat some food? Take a nap? While all of those sound amazing and should definitely be done at some point, science and research is now pointing new moms in a different direction: Skin-to-Skin contact. Skin-to-skin contact is the act of placing your new baby, healthy or preemie, belly down on your chest immediately after birth and it is rapidly gaining popularity with new moms and babies because of the overwhelming evidence that supports all the benefits. And while this isn’t a new practice, the list of benefits continues to grow so check out our list below of some of the top benefits to enjoying skin-to-skin as soon after birth as you can!
- Bonding: This is the most obvious of all the benefits! Welcoming your new baby into the world by immediately touching and cuddling with them will allow mom to continue her bond with baby outside of the womb. Research has shown that this increase in touching and cuddling continues well into baby’s first year as a result of this initial contact. And bonding isn’t exclusively for mom- this is a fantastic opportunity for dad to begin forming his bond with baby!
- Great Start for Breastfeeding: If you have decided to try breastfeeding, skin-to-skin is a great way to start. Not only does skin-to-skin help to increase milk supply but studies also indicate that babies who participate in skin-to-skin breastfeed better and longer.
- Regulates Temperature- This is an important one! Baby does not need to regulate temperate in the womb but once outside, this requires a lot of energy from baby to do. By doing skin-to-skin, baby doesn’t need to use energy to regulate temperate and can instead use energy to grow. This promotes a healthy weight gain, which is so important for new babies, especially preemies.
- Assist in Adjustment to Outside World: In addition to helping regulate temperate, babies who participate in skin-to-skin are calmer, cry less and have healthier blood sugar levels. This transition to the outside world can also be stressful- skin-to-skin is shown to reduce stress and pain and allow for better sleep during this transitional time.
- Boost Mental Development: Due to the benefits listed above, babies who do skin-to-skin are shown to have better brain function later in life. By stabilizing functions like heart rate and oxygen levels early, this allows for better brain development immediately.
- Improved Maternal Health: Studies have shown that not only does skin-to-skin help with baby’s anxiety but also helps with moms. It has been shown to minimize the occurrence of postpartum depression and the oxytocin release not only decreases anxiety but promotes attachment for nursing.
Did you do skin-to-skin with your new baby? What was your favorite part about it? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!
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