Who doesn’t look forward to that moment when you finally get to meet your baby? One of the first things many birthing persons do is pull their baby close and cuddle them against their body. While this is a natural inclination for most people there is now research that supports having large amounts of skin to skin time with new babies.
Skin to skin can help a newborn regulate it’s body temperature. Just imagine being at the perfect temp inside the womb for the last 9 months and then suddenly you are born into this no longer climate-controlled, 98 degrees-perfect environment. Regulating body temperature is one of the first and hardest things a new baby has to learn how to do. You can help your baby by placing baby skin to skin with you (or any trusted adult) and then covering both of you with a blanket (make sure you keep baby’s head clear of the blanket). We like to call this a baby burrito. Your baby will stay warm and the skin to skin contact will help baby regulate its body temp.
Skin to skin can help you bond with your baby. Just having the baby skin to skin with you will trigger the production of oxytocin , which is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone”. All those feel good vibes you get from the production of oxytocin serve as positive feedback for you to continue to care for and love your newborn.
Skin to skin is an easy way to soothe a crying or fussy baby. When you’ve tried everything you can think of to soothe your baby, get baby down to her diaper and put her directly on your chest. Just being near warm skin, a familiar smell (you), and hearing your soothing heartbeat has some pretty calming effects!
Skin to skin may improve breastfeeding success rates. Remember that oxytocin we mentioned earlier? It can also help make the breastmilk flow when baby is read for a feed. Plus being in the general area of the breast during skin to skin time makes it more accessible for baby to explore latching.
Skin to skin has been shown to accelerate brain development in newborns. Neural pathways are formed and brain function becomes more organized when baby is skin to skin with you.
We hope you are convinced now to try spending a lot of skin to skin time with your new baby. Remember to keep baby undressed down to her diaper and place her vertically on your chest. Be mindful of breathing and feeling cues during skin to skin time by keeping baby’s mouth and nose uncovered.
Enjoy those snuggles while also knowing you are doing something wonderful for your baby!