After giving birth safely, there is probably nothing more important to your baby’s health and survival than doing uninterrupted skin-to-skin as much as humanly possible. At the very least over the first 1000 hours of life. Big claim, I know!
Skin-to-skin means keeping the mother and baby together naked, only a diaper on baby, until baby crawls and finds the breast. After that, either parent can do it and its best if its done for as long as possible in that first day. Ideally without putting the baby down.
Now that might seem excessive. Here’s why it’s necessary: mother is the place for baby to be.
Babies who are not kept skin to skin will find living, breathing, staying warm, and eating more difficult. All these processes will use more energy when baby is not skin to skin. It’s that powerful.
The evidence is clear and abundant. And it’s ben repeated over and over in study after study. Getting naked is where its at!
Let’s look at what makes me so sure about skin-to- skin care. It’s amazing how such a simple act can have so many positive results!
Especially when started early, skin-to-skin contact can be very beneficial for babes starting to breastfeed. Entering into this new world can be a little stressful for a new person so being skin-to- skin is so important to keep babies calm and stress-free.
The chances of breastfeeding for longer increases from being skin-to- skin, as well as latching more easily. All in all, when breastfeeding skin-to-skin everyone benefits!
Warm Up Time
Of course, we want to make sure that our babies are at just the right temperature. The old-fashioned way (but not the original way!) to make sure babies were warm was to wrap them in layers and layers of blankets. Certainly this can be somewhat effective, but is it really the best way? No! Babies’ extremities don’t hear up as well when wrapped in fabric.
Instead, wrap into mom or dad or another loving adult. Being skin-to- skin will help to warm up a cold baby and cool down a hot baby. As adults, we parents are able to help our babies regulate their own temperatures when the baby is kept naked against our chest. It’s pretty incredible!
Helping the Brain
All that is for the physical stuff, so what about the emotional and the cognitive? In fact, a baby kept skin to skin for even just the first hour after birth will be better off! Their brain has to double in size in the first year and being skin-to-skin helps to do that by encouraging nerves to fuse together.
And when nerves fire together they wire together—and that builds a bigger and better brain! With all those amazing new neural pathways babies are more able to do various brain and thinking activities, even recognize faces and other things, better when older. We’ve measured this at one year of age and even into adolescence. So, When we’re skin-to- skin with our babies they are able to freely develop key neuropathways that set the groundwork for that future growth.
Dad’s Can Do It Too!
Just because mom’s take care of the actual act of breastfeeding doesn’t mean that partners are left out of the action. Skin-to- skin contact is awesome coming from the other loving adult too! While one parent grabs a sower or steps out helps to know that your partner can take over.
We’ve talked a lot about baby’s benefits, so what about the parent? S/he gets many benefits too! Along with making more milk, skin to skin promotes the feel-good hormone⎯oxytocin. It’s the same hormone that surges when we have an orgasm and when we fall in love (or eat chocolate!).
Babies feel it too. Oxytocin calms the baby and teaches them the safest place to be is with their parents. They build trust, which grows with them into adulthood.
So there you have it! The awesome effects of skin-to-skin care. Get out there, grab a good baby wrap, and get naked (parents: just from the waist up, please)! You don’t even need to be home for that last part, just throw a zip-up hoody or cardigan over the two of you and go!