Skin to skin contact has a multitude of benefits for all the family. It’s not just mamas and babies who can get involved, fathers and siblings can play a huge role too!
So what is it?
Put simply it is placing an unclothed (nappies allowed!) baby onto a close family members chest. This becomes the babies safe place, it's their home on the outside! The sound of a heartbeat, the smell of your body and the sound of your voice will all be familiar to your baby. This familiarity creates a low stress environment allowing your baby time to adjust to their new life.
A warm body is also the perfect temperature for a baby so this close contact will help a baby regulate their temperature as well as other vital functions like heart rate. Skin to skin cuddles release oxytocin (the love hormone) not just in the baby but in a mother, father and sibling too helping to create those special bonds as a family.
For a mother the boost of oxytocin can be a great way to get breastfeeding going and a baby lying on its mothers chest is in the perfect position to start feeding.
Having skin to skin time with your baby has been proved to regulate a babies temperature & heart rate, boost the chances of establishing breastfeeding, reduce the amount a baby cries, and reduce the risk of postnatal depression for both the mother & father.
The benefits of skin to skin with a premature baby are even more important as they are more fragile, low stress and help with body regulation is so important.