9 Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact with Babies
Skin-to-skin contact with babies has many benefits both for the baby and the parent. More and more hospitals are promoting this first contact with newborns from the moment of birth, although there are still others that don’t promote it. In this article, we’ll take a look at what the benefits of this practice are.
Experts recommend being in skin-to-skin contact with babies for 1 to 2 hours immediately after birth. The benefits of this practice last for a long time and it’s crucial to continue it during the months after birth. This contact can be made by both the mother and the father. In fact, in many hospitals, if the mother has had a cesarean section and is recovering, it’s the father who does it first.
What is skin-to-skin contact with babies?
The bond between a mother and her child begins long before birth, from the moment the baby is implanted in her uterus. The mother’s womb is the child’s shelter and her heartbeat is her favorite lullaby. Therefore, when the little one comes out into the world, it feels unprotected. This is a place where they don’t recognize the sounds and the temperature is very different from what they experienced in the womb.
This is why they need to feel their parents, as they need to feel protected and safe. For this reason, experts recommend making this contact with the baby naked on the chest of one of its parents. In the vast majority of hospitals, this contact is carried out if there have been no complications during delivery. But what are the benefits of this initial skin-to-skin contact with babies? Let’s take a look below.
Discover the benefits of skin-to-skin contact
Some years ago, babies were cleaned, measured, and weighed at birth. Then, they were placed in a crib next to their mother. As time has gone by, this practice has been modified, as separating the baby so drastically from its mother is a mistake and has no benefit.
As we’ve already said, babies need to be attached to their mother and to feel and smell her, as she does her child. So, let’s look at some of the benefits of skin-to-skin contact with babies:
1. It regulates the baby’s temperature and breathing
When a newborn comes into the world, it undergoes a sudden change in temperature. It goes from the warmth of the amniotic fluid inside the mother to the cold outside. As babies have no body fat, it’s very difficult for them to maintain their temperature, which is why they’re given a hat, regardless of the season in which they’re born. Skin-to-skin contact helps regulate the baby’s temperature and breathing.
2. Strengthens the bond between parents and baby
Early skin-to-skin contact with babies will help strengthen the bond between mom or dad and baby. This will strengthen the bond between the parents and improve bonding.
3. Provides peace of mind
Skin-to-skin contact helps reduce stress for both baby and mother after childbirth. If a baby feels secure from the moment of birth, it will improve their character in the future.
4. Improves breastfeeding
One of the keys to a good start to breastfeeding is to do skin-to-skin with babies from the time they’re born. A baby born at full term, that is, from 37 weeks of pregnancy, is ready to feed itself.
When we put the baby on top of its mother’s belly, it will crawl to find her breast and suck to feed itself. This is instinctive and innate for babies.
5. The vernix is maintained
When babies used to be washed at birth, the vernix, which is the white substance that protects their skin from any external factor, was removed. However, it’s important to maintain this layer and let it be reabsorbed by the newborn’s body little by little.
6. The baby’s immune system is strengthened
The mother’s body has bacteria and small microorganisms that strengthen the child’s immune system when it comes into contact with her. This will prevent the baby from being contaminated by whatever’s in the hospital. Something as simple as this can make all the difference.
7. It’s important for premature babies
In children born before 37 weeks and who’ve had to spend their first hours of life in an incubator, skin-to-skin “kangaroo mother care” is even more important. When parents have time to be in contact with their little ones, it brings them enormous benefits.
8. Releases oxytocin
Oxytocin is the hormone of happiness or love, therefore, it’s responsible for making us feel good. With skin-to-skin contact, both the baby and the adult will release this hormone, which will make them both experience well-being.
9. Prevents postpartum depression
Skin-to-skin contact is also a protective factor against postpartum depression. This is precisely due to the release of the hormone oxytocin.
Skin-to-skin contact is essential
You’ve already seen all the benefits of skin-to-skin contact, both for the newborn and the parents. For this reason, it’s important to maintain this practice during the first months of life. One way to do this is through babywearing, as the baby will feel very comfortable next to its mother and, in this way, will regulate its body temperature better.
Skin-to-skin contact is essential and should be carried out whenever the appropriate conditions are met. A mother shouldn’t be separated from her newborn baby, as this could have negative consequences for the baby’s future.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
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