As a new dad you have so much to offer your baby. By providing close comfort and daily care, you have lots to gain too as you get to know this very special new person in your life whilst also supporting your partner as you both adjust to the role of being parents.
PHYSIOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF SKIN TO SKIN CONTACT
Holding your baby in skin to skin contact provides warmth, comfort and stability; all of which aid early development, improve growth and reduce stress. Babies who are held skin to skin sleep better, which is crucial to brain development. Their temperature, heart rate and respiration are more stable which supports weight gain and general good health and they feel safe and connected which is essential for emotional well being and self-esteem.
BONDING AND CONFIDENCE BUILDING
Dads who hold their babies in regular skin to skin contact report an increased confidence in their role as parents, they feel more aware of their baby's cues and more responsive to their needs. This can be reassuring as you may have felt that much of the focus antenatally was on preparing mums for motherhood with little emphasis placed on the huge transition you will go through as you become a dad. You will produce oxytocin (the bonding or love hormone) in response to skin to skin contact which can foster a strong attachment with your baby as well as deepening the bond with your partner.
Babies are comforted by contact with their parent's body which triggers the release of oxytocin. Holding your baby against your chest allows you to share warmth with them and can sooth a fretful baby enabling them sleep more deeply or cope better with colic, wind and other newborn difficulties. It can be very special to know that you are able to settle your baby and meet their needs this way. Continuing to carry your baby is a wonderful way to enjoy time together as they grow. If you enjoy carrying them find out more about it online at Sling Dads.
Babies respond positively to the familiarity of their parents' voices and heartbeat. Just as the sounds of their mother's heartbeat and speech has been a familiar sound for your baby in utero, so too has your own voice and baby will enjoy hearing you speak and sing to them. When they also hear your voice through the vibrations on your chest it sounds more familiar to them as it mimics how sounds are perceived in the womb.
SUPPORTING YOUR PARTNER
Mums have a daunting task ahead of them, meeting the very intense needs of a newborn baby whilst also recovering from the physically and emotionally exhausting act of giving birth. If the birth involved caesarean surgery, or her labour was long or traumatic she will need time to heal and her hormones may cause distress and anxiety at what should be a special time. Knowing you can care for your baby through skin to skin contact means you can give your partner a break to rest, eat, and meet their own needs. If mum is breastfeeding you may feel a little sad that you do not get to feed your new baby, but by holding them skin to skin you have a unique opportunity to bond with your baby which is every bit as special an experience for them as when they are feeding.
YOUR ROLE AS 'DAD'
Each family situation is unique, the traditional roles of mother and father as defined by historical and cultural practices are changing every day. You may be a same sex parenting team, you may be the parent who will be taking extended parental leave, you and your partner may be sharing the care of your baby equally, or working together to support the needs of multiple babies. Starting your journey as a family with the secure attachment and responsive parenting that come from enjoying daily skin to skin contact with your new baby or babies is a wonderful beginning. We hope you enjoy all those special Kangaroo Care moments!
Vija Design is a unique range of Kangaroo Care Clothing enabling skin to skin contact from birth to 4 months. Men's Kangaroo Care T-Shirts are available in grey and black. The Unisex Prema Wrap is designed to support men and ladies giving Kangaroo Care to their premature baby.