Your skin is amazing! Not only is it incredibly beautiful, but it’s the largest and hardest working organ in your body! It’s helping you and others, even when you’re just doing nothing. Like when you’re snuggling your baby and enjoying that skin-to-skin contact. How incredible is that?!?
Your skin never turns off. It protects you all the time from disease, infection, temperature extremes, and harmful elements. Everything your skin does, from sweat to goosebumps, has a unique scientific purpose. It protects your body from some things and yet it allows others to be absorbed. Your skin is the first line of defense between the outside world and your delicate insides. It plays a vital role in your body’s temperature regulation, as well as your immune system. Did you know there are lymphocytes in your skin that detect infectious danger and alert your immune system to prepare?
There are so many amazing things your skin is capable of! So is it any wonder that your skin and your baby’s skin can work together to help you both tremendously?
This list isn’t all-inclusive!
There are a plethora of benefits to be had from skin-to-skin contact! So I had to condense all the individual ways into five “areas” of benefit. Otherwise, this would be an article about the 7,000 reasons it’s important, and we don’t have time for that.
The numbered items on this list aren’t single reasons – they’re more like categories of reasons.
There are so many ways skin-to-skin contact is helpful for babies and parents, some which we probably haven’t discovered yet. Here’s a highlight of some of the biggest reasons why skin-to-skin contact is more important than you ever thought:
1. Skin-to-skin contact stabilizes your newborn’s body
Providing your newborn with skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after birth will help her body adjust to life outside the womb. And the skin-to-skin contact doesn’t have to be with mom!! Anyone can snuggle the baby’s chest and tummy to their own.
Regardless of who the skin-to-skin contact is with, it helps the baby’s body stabilize in incredible ways. Research has shown that skin-to-skin contact regulates a baby’s body temperature, heart rate, lungs, and blood sugar. It also reduces
Skin-to-skin contact is an analgesic, so if there are any injuries, blood-work, heel pricks, etc. it will reduce her pain. In addition, it stimulates a baby’s appetite and promotes a healthy weight in babies of all ages.
In fact, it’s so incredibly healthy for newborns that a Harvard Study found that skin-to-skin contact can reduce 36% of newborn deaths in developing countries, especially among those with low birth weight!
2. Improves your baby’s health over time
The dramatic benefits of skin-to-skin contact don’t end in the newborn days. Your baby’s health will continue to benefit as long as you keep skin-to-skin contact a regular part of your routine.
Of course, the skin-to-skin contact will help provide pain relief any time she has to have blood-work, immunizations or gets an ouchie. Your baby will receive a cognitive boost from skin-to-skin contact, and her immune system will improve as she is gently introduced to good bacteria from your skin (and probably some not-so-good bacteria too. Just sayin’.)
Babies who get regular skin-to-skin contact tend to cry less, sleep more, and maintain a healthier weight than other babies. Win!!!
3. Strengthens the parent-baby bond
There’s something magical in the feel of your baby’s skin on your own. I can’t describe it, I can only say that it feels right. Peaceful. Perfect. It’s not just my imagination either!
Skin-to-skin contact strengthens the bond between a baby and their parent. The endorphins released while you snuggle your baby close are addictive, which makes them both crave more. When researchers studied new parents in the hospital, they discovered that parents who practiced skin-to-skin contact touched and snuggled their babies more than parents who didn’t.
After the first year, parents practicing skin-to-skin contact were still snuggling their babies more, as evidenced by behavior at the pediatrician’s office. They also communicate better with their child and understand their needs and cues better than parents who keep clothing between them.
4. Dramatically boosts breastfeeding
Immediate skin-to-skin contact will get your colostrum moving and your milk factory starting up. Your body is just waiting for a cue to start milk production, and your sweet warm bundle of joy snuggled close is about the best cue there is.
Newborns have this incredible sense of smell, and they can actually smell the milk inside your body. Your baby will want to get as close as possible to that smell. Now she may not latch on right away, but if she nuzzles, licks, or puts her mouth on your nipples, she is still getting some colostrum. And that’s about priceless! If a baby is laid on the mother’s chest for skin-to-skin contact within the first hour of life, she’ll be getting the most nutritious colostrum possible and she’ll probably get that first feeding successfully underway.
It increases your milk supply
Continuing skin-to-skin contact over time will increase your milk supply. Babies placed on mom’s bare chest with a receiving blanket over their back will nurse more often than babies who are swaddled or snuggled with fabric between them and their mom. And we know that more frequent nursing will boost that milk supply!
Also, the skin-to-skin contact stimulates your own body to release endorphins and other hormones which relax you and cause your milk to flow much more freely. And that means more milk is removed from your breast at feeding time. The more milk that’s removed from the breast, the more milk your body creates to replace it.
5. Helps You Be A Better Mom
Mothers who spend time snuggling skin-to-skin with their babies experience a boost in their confidence as parents. Perhaps it’s because of that better communication, or because their baby is sleeping more and crying less.
Whatever the reason, skin-to-skin moms are definitely more confident. They enjoy less stress and anxiety, as well as better sleep. They’re also less likely to suffer from postpartum depression, which just helps everyone.
I think all those benefits work together to create a barrier between the mom and the depression, but that’s just my opinion there. Speaking for me, all it takes is better sleep to make me a better mom!
Why Not Give A Little Skin?
With the overwhelming amount of science and research behind the physical, mental, and psychological benefits of skin-to-skin contact, is there any reason you shouldn’t incorporate this bonding routine into the time you spend with your baby? I don’t think so. Go ahead, put your little one’s bare chest straight onto your own chest and just let the love (and the endorphins!) flow!
How important is skin-to-skin contact to you and your baby? Please tell me in the comments below!