The many benefits of skin-to-skin contact
This post is written in collaboration with Sovende Børn.
Moonboon works closely with the NGO Sovende Børn and their team of specialists to provide updated, relevant advice and guidance on children's and babies' sleep. Read more about Sovende Børn at the bottom of the post.
"Did you really just lie there with your baby all day without doing anything?" Many new parents may have come across that question. It may seem simple and trivial, but in fact you have probably carried out one of the most important tasks by "just" lying there with your baby close to you. When you lie close together, also called skin-to-skin, several hormonal processes are triggered in both you and your baby, which create an irreplaceable foundation of health and well-being for both of you.
Skin-to-skin contact helps both baby and mom to rebalance
What exactly is skin-to-skin? To some, it may sound like hocus-pocus that a little time without clothes on should be able to remedy everything from breastfeeding challenges to stomach issues, hormonal imbalances and postpartum reactions. However, skin-to-skin is actually a great remedy for such issues. You can compare skin-to-skin to turning the computer off and on – it resets and balances the systems of both baby and parent.
Oxytocin is the key
One of the main reasons why skin-to-skin has so many beneficial effects is the production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is produced in the brain during skin-to-skin contact and affects the rest of the body. Oxytocin is a fundamental cornerstone in relation to our health, mental well-being and quality of life. We release the highest level of oxytocin during physical contact, which is perceived as pleasant and pleasurable.
In fact, this is supported by research
You can measure the effect of skin-to-skin in a small child. Among other things, you will find that a baby, who is admitted to hospital and monitored for, among other things, pulse and oxygen saturation, will have more stable vital-sign values if the baby is placed skin-to-skin on their caregiver's chest.
Research has been able to show that skin-to-skin:
- helps strengthen the attachment between adult and child
- reduces the risk of postpartum disorders
- has a pain-relieving effect due to hormone production
- reduces the risk of postpartum bleeding
- promotes breastfeeding by stimulating both the baby's sucking reflex and the breastfeeding mother's milk production
- stabilises the child's heart rate, breathing and temperature
- reduces crying in the child
- improves the child's weight gain
- has long-term benefits such as an improved immune system, promotes neurological development and has a beneficial impact on the nervous system
Make skin-to-skin a priority
Skin-to-skin really is a bit of a miracle cure and something that you should prioritise, especially during the first weeks after birth.
Skin-to-skin means that you have your baby placed on your chest and both you and baby are undressed (baby may be wearing a nappy). When you lie together like this, there is no limit to how long you can lie down and enjoy your time together.
Skin-to-skin using the baby wrap
However, even though it may be comfortable and cosy to lie on the sofa or bed for a while, there is certainly also some value in getting up and moving, making a cup of coffee or perhaps going for a walk.
The baby wrap is a gift from heaven in this regard. You can easily be skin-to-skin under the baby wrap, which allows you both to enjoy the many benefits of being close and at the same time be mobile and have your hands free. Clever, huh?
(Psst... the many benefits, perhaps not least those related to breastfeeding, also apply to your partner. So, take off your shirt and cuddle up with your baby – so mum can have a bath and some much needed rest.)
- Skin-to-skin is much more than "just lying down" and should be prioritised, especially during the first period of your baby's life.
- Skin-to-skin is just as important to your baby as having their physiological needs met.
- Skin-to-skin can be used to reset the systems in case of, for instance, breastfeeding challenges, abdominal discomfort, postpartum reactions and hormonal imbalances.
- The production of oxytocin is one of the primary reasons why skin-to-skin has such a profound effect on your newborn.
- Research in the field has been able to show that you can measure the effect of skin-to-skin in the baby's vital-sign values.
- Skin-to-skin entails baby and parent wearing as little clothing as possible (your baby preferably wearing a nappy) and baby placed on the parent's chest.
- The baby wrap is ideal for mobile and hands-free skin-to-skin contact.
ABOUT SOVENDE BØRN
Sovende Børn is an online universe for parents and professionals seeking guidance and information about babies and children's sleep and sleep issues.
The purpose is to give parents and professionals the right tools to make informed choices that suit the individual child's sleep situation.
On the website and social media outlets, you will find updated and reliable information about available research, as well as webinars, workshops, courses, etc.
Thank you for being among our readers.
I’m Marie, mom to a little boy. And I’m the woman behind the Moonboon company making organic and sustainable baby accessories that respect people and the environment.
Have a look at our baby accessories here.
I want for my son to sleep in optimal conditions, and I want the same for your baby. That’s why I’m especially proud of our GOTS certified hammock and the specially designed motor that has helped me and many other parents sleep better at night.
Join the Moonboon universe on Facebook and Instagram or get to know us better here.