When a baby is born, they are typically placed directly onto the mother’s chest after birth. This is a sacred time because of the vital bonding that occurs, for a multitude of reasons. It is suggested that the baby continue to spend time skin-to-skin with the mother until the baby has finished nursing for the first time, and for as much time as possible in the first few months of life.
Skin-to-skin contact is so important because it helps newborns make the transition from the womb to the outside world by regulating their temperature, heartbeat, breathing patterns, and oxygen levels. It helps build a stronger connection between mother and baby, the building blocks to a strong attachment, which is essential for a baby to thrive well into later years of life.
Skin-to-skin contact initiates a newborn's instincts to nurse while boosting the release of oxytocin for mom and baby, which helps both to heal. The best part? The benefits of practicing skin-to-skin contact never stop; check out LaVie’s tips and read the benefits for yourself! (23 Moms From Around The World Share Breastfeeding Stories, Tips, and Advice)
Many people don’t know this, but practicing skin-to-skin contact with your baby should continue for months (or longer!) after leaving the hospital. Are you new to skin-to-skin contact? It’s easy! All you need to do is lay your baby on your chest, bare skin to bare skin. You can then cover your baby up with a blanket or wrap them in your robe or sweater and snuggle up, heart to heart. Once you give this a try you’ll understand what the hype is all about. For our first-time moms out there make sure to read up on what to expect, including birth and breastfeeding plans. (What to expect when you're expecting (to breastfeed)
There are so many reasons to practice skin-to-skin contact every day with your baby. One of our favorite reasons is all the wonderful benefits it provides to breastfeeding mothers. You don't want to miss this!
Here’s a list of some of the ways skin-to-skin boosts breastfeeding success:
- Initiates Breastfeeding
- Increases Milk Supply
- Lowers Risk of Postpartum Depression
- Reduces Stress
- Boosts Oxytocin
- Leads to Longer Breastfeeding Success
When a newborn baby is placed on its mother’s chest for the first time, her scent and warmth will encourage the baby’s natural instinct to nurse. Skin-to-skin contact continues to encourage breastfeeding long after mom and baby have left the hospital. Try this with your baby and you’ll soon see your baby rooting if they don’t fall fast asleep. (BONUS! Skin-to-skin also promotes better sleep.)
Because skin-to-skin initiates breastfeeding, it leads to a greater milk supply. The more often a mother nurses, especially complete feedings, the more milk she will produce. It doesn’t get much better than that! Learn more about how to increase your milk supply by here.
Skin-to-skin contact releases oxytocin or the “feel good” hormone. This is also the hormone responsible for the let-down reflex. So, practicing skin-to-skin and breastfeeding is the total package of bonding and relaxing with your little oxytocin generator. If you aren’t familiar with the term let-down, check this article out. (What's a Letdown?)
The release of oxytocin, which takes place while nursing, practicing skin-to-skin, or any other bonding experience, helps reduce stress. Less stress equals a more joyful and peaceful nursing experience. Babies can feel their parent’s stress; they can tell when their mom or dad is upset, worried, or anxious, and just like stress impacts our bodies, it impacts our babies too. Regularly practicing skin-to-skin contact helps mothers and babies to feel less stressed, which leads to greater breastfeeding success.
Because practicing skin-to-skin and breastfeeding go hand-in-hand as a way to boost oxytocin, they also reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Moms who practice skin-to-skin, or breastfeed, or ideally both, are at less risk because their bodies are naturally producing more oxytocin. So, they feel happier, relaxed, and feel a stronger attachment to their baby. Postpartum depression can be tough on the mother, baby, and loved ones. Click the link above to read more about how to navigate through it.
Leads to Longer Breastfeeding Success
Moms who regularly practice skin-to-skin contact are more likely to breastfeed their babies for a longer period of time. This is because skin-to-skin strengthens the bond between mother and baby and that bond also contributes to a happier and longer-lasting breastfeeding journey.
We want to emphasize that skin-to-skin should be a continued practice long after parents and babies have left the hospital. Work skin-to-skin contact into your daily schedule. Skin-to-skin is not just for breastfeeding moms; there are tremendous benefits for anyone who practices skin-to-skin contact. For example, if dad practices skin-to-skin contact, dad will:
- Feel less stressed out, and so will the baby.
- Form a closer bond with the baby.
- Share skin immunity with the baby, which means that the dad's antibodies are transferred to his baby through skin contact. This boosts the baby’s immune system. (Just like antibodies are transferred through breast milk, antibodies can be transferred through skin contact. Amazing, huh?)
- Regulate the baby's temperature, heart rate, breathing patterns, and oxygen levels. This is particularly crucial in the first few weeks of the baby’s life.
- Strengthen his baby’s brain development by making his baby feel safe and loved, which allows the baby to focus on learning and growth instead of survival.
WHOEVER is practicing skin-to-skin contact will experience the benefits listed above. Moms who breastfeed will also experience these benefits PLUS all the breastfeeding benefits.
We can’t make this stuff up. Skin-to-skin is really this amazing. It’s a simple and beautiful way for parents and caregivers to bond with their babies.
Bonsie Skin-To-Skin Babywear is an awesome, one-of-a-kind company that designs baby clothes specifically for the ease of skin-to-skin contact. The front of the onesie opens up to easily practice skin-to-skin contact without taking any of your baby’s clothes off. Bonsie promotes and educates the community about this terrific practice in hopes of giving all babies the best possible start to life. LaVie Exclusive: Save 15% sitewide with Bonsie discount code: LaVie15Emily C. Shepard
Breastmilk. Every Ounce Counts. Breastmilk Counts. (2021). https://www.breastmilkcounts.com/breastfeeding-101/skin-to-skin/