The science behind skin-to-skin contact is mind blowing.
Bravo to modern research for discovering the many benefits of this important practice!
“Psychologists say there are five types of love languages, but to newborn babies, only one really registers: physical touch.” (Stanford Children's Health, 2015)
There are so many wonderful things that happen during the magical moments when a newborn baby is placed on their parent's chest: regulation of baby’s temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, initiation of the instinct to breastfeed (for gestational parents), and parental release of oxytocin (the "love hormone"). Note: Early initiation of breastfeeding has been shown to lead to greater, long-term success in nursing. This powerful connection between a parent and their baby also increases uterine contractions, which slows the birth parent's bleeding. Skin-to-skin contact is the optimum bonding experience because it helps to heal birth parents while their tiny miracle adjusts to the new world through this first loving act.
Dr. Philip Sunshine, emeritus professor of pediatrics at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, suggests that the partner be prepared to initiate this important contact if the birth parent requires immediate medical attention. Note: If you are an expecting parent, talk to your doctor about your birthing plan to make this a possibility.
This practice is so vital for the health of a newborn baby that it is also standard practice in the NICU. In many cases you can literally watch a baby’s vitals improve on the monitor as a result of skin-to-skin contact.
And that’s just the beginning! Skin-to-skin contact should be a continued practice for the first several months (if not longer!) with all primary caregivers. The adjustment from the womb to the outside world takes time, and the more skin-to-skin contact parents can provide their baby with, the easier this transition will be. Another great reason to snuggle whenever possible!
Lack of love, parental inconsistency, or instability in the home can lead to long-term physical and mental problems, as well as greater challenges to find success and happiness into adulthood. (Winston & Chicot, 2015) That is why attachment is essential, and why there must be education on this matter.
Skin-to-skin contact helps a baby to develop a more secure attachment to their parents or primary caregiver. Above all else, babies want to feel safe, and because they are completely dependent on their parents, they feel safest when nestled close, skin-to-skin.
There are so many ways to love a baby, from lullabies to diaper changes, but the first step in the important process of establishing a safe and loving connection is through the miraculous practice of skin-to-skin contact. Check out Bonsie Skin to Skin Babywear for for the first and only baby clothing designed for the ease of skin-to-skin contact.
Give 'em some skin: Skin-to-skin contact between babies and parents. Stanford Children's Health. (2015). https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/health-topics/magazine/give-em-some-skin
Winston, R., & Chicot, R. (2016, February 24). The importance of early bonding on the long-term mental health and resilience of children. London journal of primary care. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5330336/