During pregnancy, your baby will have everything they need when they are still in your belly. They will receive protection, food, oxygen, and warmth from your body. However, as they exit your body after labor, your baby will find themselves unable to access those essentials so easily. So, your baby needs a gentle transition when changing the environment from the mother’s womb to the outside world. Skin-to-skin contact is a great way to help your baby adapt to the outside world. In fact, different studies show that skin-to-skin contact after birth will benefit both the mother and her baby.
1. Benefit in Breastfeeding
While doing skin-to-skin contact right after birth, your baby does not need the help or intervention of any medical staff to breastfeed. In fact, newborns can locate and crawl on their own toward your breast for their first drops of milk. This instinct proves that they are in close contact with you. Breastfeeding during the first hour is also good for mothers as well. Immediately after birth, the placenta and the amniotic fluid remain in your body meanwhile the uterus also begins to contract. Breastfeeding right after birth will help your body push the placenta out easier and faster while reducing the risk of postpartum hemorrhage. On top of that, doing skin-to-skin contact will stimulate the production of oxytocin which boosts the production of your breastmilk.
2. Skin-To-Skin Contact Helps Your Baby To Adjust Their Body Temperature
Infants do not acquire the ability to adjust their body temperature yet as they are used to the amniotic environment that is always temperature controlled. So when they go out, they must use a lot of oxygen and energy to keep the optimal body temperature. Doing the skin-to-skin contact after birth will help your baby get used to this process easier. Your chest is much warmer than other parts of the body, and any other artificial warmer. Within a few minutes of skin-to-skin’ contact, the chest will adjust itself to fit your baby’s needs. Reports show that newborns who share a room with their mothers for the first hour after birth will have better respiratory and body temperature control than babies who are separated from their mothers.
3. Reduce the risk of hypoglycemia
Your baby will use blood sugar for energy. Before birth, your body provides the glucose that your baby needs through the placenta. After birth, they get it from your breastmilk. If your baby has low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), they are hard to feed and it will affect their health. Most healthy babies can adjust their blood sugar levels as long as they are fed. However, some babies are at higher risk, especially babies born to diabetic mothers, whose bodies often produce too much insulin themselves when they are born. This is the reason for the increased risk of hypoglycemia. Keeping your baby with you and giving your baby skin-to-skin contact will help you to warm the baby and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia as you can feed your baby directly.
4. Skin-To-Skin Contact Boosts your Baby’s Brain Development
At birth, your baby’s brain is still small and is only about 25% of the size of an adult. Skin-to-skin contact is an experience that requires the involvement of many sensory organs. As a result, it helps your baby to develop their nerve pathways which are especially needed for brain maturation. Furthermore, Skin-to-skin contact also promotes the maturation process of almond nodes, an important part of the brain’s core. These nodes are involved in the formation of emotions, memory formation, and activation of the sympathetic nervous system. During skin-to-skin contact with mothers, most newborns fall asleep easily and reach a natural deep state of sleep lasting 60 minutes or more. This is important because deep sleep is one of the most favorable factors to help accelerate the development of their brain.
5. Improve your baby’s immune system
Skin-to-skin contact helps babies pick up familiar bacteria from their mother’s skin. This is not dangerous because the newborns have received antibodies against most of these bacteria while still in the womb. While breastfeeding in some hours after birth, your body will produce antibodies against bacteria present in the environment. These antibodies then will be passed to your baby through breast milk and protect them from infections.
The occupation of the familiar mother’s bacteria on the newborn baby’s body also makes foreign bacteria and viruses in the birth environment to have little chance of invading. This is especially important for babies born by cesarean section because babies often do not have access to healthy bacteria in the mother’s vagina – an important first step for the functioning of the immune system.
There you go, now you have the 5 benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact. What do you think about these benefits? Please share your opinions with us in the comments!