What is skin-to-skin contact?
When a baby cuddles up to Mom or Dad, it is called skin-to-skin. All babies benefit from skin-to-skin time, regardless of whether they are breast-feeding or formula-feeding.
Both babies and parents can benefit from skin-to-skin contacts. Skin-to-skin can benefit everyone, including breastfeeding and formula-feeding Moms, Dads as well as partners, as they are all adoptive parents. The skin-to-skin contact can be done by both parents at the same time.
Skin-to skin contact is the practice of laying a newborn baby directly on the chest of the mother after birth. Both are covered with a warm blanket for an hour, or until the first feeding. The skin-to-skin method can be used whenever a baby is in need of comfort, soothing or calming. It can aid in the bonding process. This can also increase a mother’s milk production.
Why did skin-to-skin begin?
In the early 1980s, Bogota, Colombia, began studying skin-to-skin care, originally known as Kangaroo Care. The mortality rate for premature Colombian infants was 70% at that time. A number of factors, including infections, respiratory issues, and the lack of parental bonding, can contribute to premature births.
Kangaroo Care evolved slowly in the absence medical care. Mothers of premature babies held their infants 24 hours a days out of necessity. Even when sleeping, mothers would tuck their infants under their clothes as if they were in a Kangaroo pouch.
Researchers who studied Kangaroo Care noted a dramatic drop in mortality. Kangaroo Care was a success for premature babies!
In the United States, Kangaroo Care became available in hospitals as early as the 1990s. Kangaroo care, which is mainly studied in neonatal intensive-care units (NICU), has many benefits.
- Stable heart rate (fewer bradycardic episodes).
- Improved regular breathing (75 per cent decrease in apneic events).
- Improved oxygen saturation.
Parents will benefit from a stronger bond with their newborns and a boost in self-confidence. Breastfeeding or bonding with your newborn should start within one hour after birth. It can be done by encouraging skin-to-skin touch with the newborn.
How do I perform skin-to-skin contact?
The chest of your newborn should be placed between your breasts, against your chest. Your baby should be naked, except for a diaper or hat. They can then be wrapped in a blanket or robe with you.
After birth, skin-to-skin touch is popular in the hospital and encouraged to continue at home as long as both mother and child wish. Breastfeeding becomes easier and your baby’s temperature stays stable with skin-to-skin.
Oxytocin, the love hormone, will help you to learn about your baby’s needs, help you produce more milk and calm both you and your infant.
When you are breastfeeding your baby, oxytocin is released when your infant grabs your breast and attaches itself to your nipple. It continues to release oxytocin through the newborn’s sucking.
Your newborn will get used to your scent and warmth. Oxytocin helps your newborn to associate familiar cues and breastfeeding. This will encourage your baby to continue feeding while also gaining the benefits from skin-to-skin touch.
Even if you don’t breastfeed, skin-to-skin touch can release oxytocin. This bonding method can be initiated with your baby. You and your baby can both benefit from oxytocin, including a sense of calmness, less stress and an increased bonding.
Oxytocin has a calming effect that can make you feel calm and relaxed.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SKIN-TO-SKIN?
Benefits for parents:
- Promotes a strong bond between you and your baby.
- Supports breastfeeding
- Calms and relaxes either parent and helps to reduce the anxiety of a new parent .
- Reduced postpartum blood loss.
- Reduced risk of perinatal mental disorders.
Benefits for baby:
- Reduces stress.
- Encourage better sleep.
- Helps regulate the baby’s breathing and heart rate.
- Can help to stimulate digestion and improve feedings.
- Regulates the body temperature of your baby and keeps him/her warm.
- Colonizing baby’s skin with mom’s friendly bacteria can protect against infection.
- Stimulates hormone release to support breastfeeding and parenting.
- Reduces crying in newborns
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