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Accelerates baby's brain growth and supports early cognitive development
Skin to skin contact facilitates the development of critical neural pathways through stimulation of the amygdala, accelerating brain growth during the critical early months of cognitive development.
Promotes bonding, helping babies feel happier and cry less
Skin to skin contact helps babies and parents form deep attachments to each other which gives babies crucial feelings of security and belonging.
Regulates baby's heart rate and breathing
Babies can synchronise their breathing and heart rate with their parent when held in skin to skin contact.
Helps baby regulate their body temperature
It is essential to keep babies warm. A baby's body temperature stabilises while being held skin to skin. The mother's body can adapt its surface temperature by several degrees within just seconds to instinctively to warm or cool baby as needed.
Encourages the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding
When babies are held in skin to skin contact in the first hour after they are born they will root and suckle at the breast initiating their first feed, they are twice as likely to breastfeed in this time than babies who are swaddled.
Improves baby's digestion and encourages weight gain
The reduction of cortisol in babies during skin to skin contact allows better absorption and digestion of nutrients while reducing gastro-intestinal problems.
Supports good sleep cycles for baby's brain development
Body contact with the parent is crucial for healthy brain development in newborns. Deep sleep in regular cycles is essential for the development and maturation of brain function in infants.
Strengthens baby's immunity and reduces infection risk
Being in contact with mother's or father's skin increases hydration of babies skin providing a protective barrier against harmful bacteria that can enter baby's skin. Exposure to the mother's colonised skin bacteria stimulates the baby's immune system, this helps prepare the baby's body to fight off other pathogens from their wider environment.
Combats Post Natal Depression and Anxiety
Skin to skin contact with baby increases maternal oxytocin levels and lowers levels of adrenalin and cortisol. It can help restore hormonal levels and reduce the risk of postnatal depression and anxiety. Where mothers do suffer symptoms of anxiety or depression regular skin to skin contact promotes a sense of well being and supports healthy attachment with their baby. Mums and dads report that skin to skin contact increases their confidence in themselves as parents.
Improved Milk Production
Mothers who experience skin to skin contact soon after baby is born are more likely to continue exclusive breastfeeding when they come back home. The increase of oxytocin and maternal prolactin in the first hours after birth is known to increase milk production in the long term. Stimulation of the breast releases prolactin which triggers the production of milk and babies who are held skin to skin will more easily suckle and root for the breast. Mothers experiencing breastfeeding difficulties report significant improvement by practicing skin to skin for a period of at least 1 hour, 1-2 times a day.
Reduces Post-Natal Recovery Time
When mothers hold their newborns skin to skin their bodies release higher levels of oxytocin which reduces blood pressure, lowers levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and reduces postnatal bleeding supporting better, faster recovery.
Promotes Well-Being and Attachment
Prolonged body contact is essential for normal brain development in babies but it also has positive effects on the adult's brain. The increase in oxytocin levels creates sense of trust, affection and well being which helps mother to be loving and responsive towards her baby. Parents who enjoy regular skin to skin contact will become more sensitive and aware of their baby's needs and will feel more confident about her/his parenting skills.