A simple hug from your mother almost makes everything okay. That’s the power of a mother’s embrace, something that you have been used to since you were a child. In fact, when babies are in the womb, they get warmth, food, protection, and oxygen from their mothers’ bodies and they are the closest to them that they can possibly be. After childbirth, newborns are suddenly deprived of direct access to those basic necessities. The closest a baby can come to being back in the warmth and safety of the womb is when they are held naked against their mother’s skin. This is known as skin-to-skin contact.
Multiple studies suggest that skin-to-skin contact has numerous benefits for the child as well as the mother.
What happens in skin-to-skin contact?
Skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her newborn helps the mother and child grow closer. This method enables the mother to engage with her infant by smelling, touching, and talking to the baby. The child tries to open his or her eyes in an attempt to respond to their mother’s voice in some way. The child gets acquainted with the breast as the baby is held so close to the mother’s chest. The child might also start to make some movements and crawl towards the breast and finds it easier to locate the breast and starts to feed.
How does skin-to-skin contact help the mother and the baby?
There are numerous benefits of skin-to-skin contact, with a lot of them being long-term ones.
Benefits of skin-to-skin contact after birth for mothers and babies:
- Helps relax and soothe the mother and the child
- Helps reduce maternal anxiety
- Reduces the number of times the baby cries
- Stabilises the infant’s breathing and heart rate
- Higher blood oxygen levels for the baby
- Improves cognitive development for the baby
- Transfer of good bacteria from the mother to the baby
- Encourages the release of hormones to enhance breastfeeding
- Boosts the digestive system and capacity to digest nutrients
- Assists with faster rate of weight growth for the baby
Things to keep in mind during skin-to-skin contact
- Place your phone aside while providing kangaroo care as it can distract your infant.
- Ensure to hold your baby skin-to-skin for at least 60 minutes throughout each session.
- Ensure you have clean and healthy skin, and no skin rashes or open skin lesions.
- Avoid perfumes and lotions, as the baby gets acquainted to the breast by smelling and licking.
- Avoid smoking prior to skin-to-skin contact.
It’s not just the physical contact between mothers and their babies that’s important. In fact, skin-to-skin time with a father might also be beneficial for a baby as well. However, it will be different than the mother’s touch. So, mom or dad, it’s time to take the little one in your arms for some skin-to-skin contact.