In this post we will be telling you more about the benefits of skin to skin contact with your baby and why it is so important. Your baby remains close to you during your entire pregnancy. He gets protection, warmth, food and oxygen. After birth, he suddenly finds himself without instant access to these vital needs. So many studies have shown the benefits linked to skin to skin contact, also called “kangaroo care”. Being held close to you, his naked body touching yours, is the best way to bring back that feeling of security and warmth that he experienced while being inside your womb.
If possible, try to have skin to skin contact with your little one for at least one to two hours after birth. If you are unable to do so due to birth complications or other medical reasons, ask your partner to step in and help. You will notice the benefits within minutes. His breathing, body temperature and heart rate will stabilize.
9 Benefits Of Skin to Skin Contact With Your Baby
The advantages of skin to skin contact are ongoing and can last for years. That is why it comes as no surprise why this practice is recommended to new moms during their hospital stay and after.
Better Lung And Heart Function
Your baby experiences a major transition after birth as he prepares to breathe outside of your uterus. Babies who are held close to their mother’s skin, tend to adapt quicker as opposed to those who are not. They also have more stable breathing and heart rates. It might be because their mother’s heart and breathing patterns are familiar and reminds them of the time spent in your womb.
Quicker Stabilization Of Body Temperature
While being pregnant, you maintain your baby’s body temperature by sweating when you feel hot or shivering and moving about when you feel cold. Babies must first adapt to the world outside of your womb and have not yet attained this ability. They can’t yet adjust their body temperature. Practicing skin to skin contact helps with stabilizing your baby’s body temperature and keeping him warm. The warmth from your body is better than any artificial warmer.
Enhanced Blood Sugar Regulation
Infants utilize blood sugar for energy. During pregnancy, they obtain glucose through your placenta, and after being born, they get it from the mother’s milk. If your infant’s glucose requirements exceed what he can get from his liver or your milk, his blood sugar will drop. This can lead to him not feeding well, which will only worsen the issue. Babies who were born to moms who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy have an elevated risk of having low blood sugar. Skin to skin care shortly after birth can help with stabilizing a baby’s low blood sugar levels.
More Advanced Transfer Of Good Bacteria
With vaginal birth, your baby’s gut is colonized with bacteria in your vagina when he passes through the birth canal. Another method for getting exposed to your bacteria is through practicing skin to skin contact shortly after giving birth. The bacteria present in the vagina and on your skin is dissimilar to that found in hospitals. Early exposure allows your baby to develop a good range of healthy bacteria.
Helps With Initiating Breastfeeding
When a newborn is placed on his mother’s abdomen shortly after birth, he is able to locate his mom’s breast on his own. A baby has natural instincts that help him find his mom’s breast, latching on and nursing, provided he is in close contact with her. Even babies in NICU can get their first oral feed through breastfeeding.
Studies reveal that infants who are held close using skin to skin contact, especially by their mom, tend to cry less as opposed to babies who are separated from their moms. The cries of a newborn are often called “separation distress calls”. Newborns will often stop crying after being reunited with their moms. It is only natural that he feels safe and protected since he has been so close to his mom, hearing her heartbeats and being confined in her womb for nine months.
Studies involving babies who experience clinical procedures revealed that infants experience less pain when they are held skin to skin during the procedures and that the duration of pain is shortened with close contact. Skin to skin contact is also more useful than sugar water for pain relief during a heel stick that is used for taking samples of blood.
Creating A Stronger Bond between Parent And Baby
After your baby is born, this time is the best opportunity for you and your partner to familiarize yourselves with your little one’s behaviour – signs of fullness, signs of hunger, or signs of discomfort, etc. Holding your baby skin to skin, can assist you with learning these signals faster, creating a stronger bond between you and your newborn and improving maternal confidence while instilling a sense of trust and security for your baby.
Skin To Skin Helps You Baby To Transition Easier To Life Outside The Womb
Babies who experience skin to skin shortly after being born are generally more physiologically stable than babies who are placed inside a warmer after birth. They also experience more positive neurobehavioral outcomes, which is indicative of the various factors that were noticed, for instance, better nursing, lower pain response, less crying, etc.
In summary, these babies transition easier to life outside of the womb. Newborns want to be held close to their mothers and they need to be cuddled and reassured during the first days and weeks after being born, to help them transition better and get used to this new world they have been introduced to.
The standard medical model for giving birth in the past has encouraged moms to place their babies in warmers and to be taken to the nursery so that nurses can monitor them while the mother rests. However, in modern times moms and babies are kept together from birth and during their postpartum hospital stay, unless there is a medical reason for separation. The importance of skin to skin contact with your baby cannot be ignored especially when you consider all the benefits linked to this practice.
Human touch is vital for mammalian survival and skin to skin contact strengthens the bond between newborns and their moms. Hold your little one close from the beginning and continue to do so throughout infancy. This will not only benefit your baby, but you as well.