Why Is Skin-to-Skin So Important?
You may or may not be familiar with the term “skin-to-skin.” This is an important yet very simple way to bond with your new baby, all while providing many other excellent benefits.
By placing your newborn on your chest immediately following birth, you are helping not only your newborn, but also yourself in a multitude of ways.
According to UNICEF.org* the benefits of skin-to-skin contact are:
- Calms and relaxes both mother and baby
- Regulates the baby’s heart rate and breathing, helping them to better adapt to life outside the womb
- Stimulates digestion and an interest in feeding
- Regulates temperature
- Enables colonization of the baby’s skin with the mother’s friendly bacteria, thus providing protection against infection
- Stimulates the release of hormones to support breastfeeding and mothering.
The hour following birth has been named "the sacred hour" and for great reason. If your plan is to breastfeed, holding your baby skin-to-skin during this time is a great way to begin setting a good foundation for such an important relationship. Skin-to-skin is so crucial because helps initiate the process of baby finding the nipple and getting familiar with nursing.
Hospitals across the US have recognized the importance of skin-to-skin and are working to make this a standard practice for all healthy moms and newborns.
Skin-to-skin isn't just for new mothers. This is also a great way for partners and siblings to bond with their new bundle. Partners can wear a button down shirt to easily place baby on their chest. Use this time before visitors rush in to really snuggle and bond with your newborn, and soak up all of the benefits that come along with it.
This practice doesn't have to stop in the hospital, continue skin-to-skin with your new baby for as long as you want at home, infants feel safe against your warm, familiar skin!