If you loved the skin-to-skin contact you had with your baby just after childbirth, we have good news. This contact has benefits well beyond birth. Some health and development experts recommend it for at least 3 months for full-term babies and 6 months for preemies.
Skin-to-skin contact just after birth has been proven to help maintain or improve the infant’s body temperature, digestion, blood-oxygen levels, heartbeat, sleep and even the immune system (mom passes antibodies to the infant through her skin and her breast milk). It also helps the baby initiate breastfeeding and, for the mom, promotes improved milk production, less postpartum bleeding and a lower risk of postpartum depression.
Once you’re both back home, daily skin-to-skin contact promotes mom and baby bonding and, for your baby, full sleep and wake cycles and even brain development from the positive sensory stimulation.
Here’s how to have daily skin-to-skin contact with your baby:
- With your infant clothed in only a diaper, hold him or her close, upright on your chest. (Place a light blanket over the two of you if it’s a little chilly).
- Avoid interrupting skin-to-skin time with a diaper changing or other tasks. Instead, concentrate on enjoying just this relaxing sensation of the two of you skin-to-skin.
- Try skin-to-skin time during breastfeeding or bottle-feeding in the morning or after a bath. See if you can keep your baby in this position for an hour, since this can provide time for the baby to complete a sleep and waking cycle. Being on your chest helps promote those cycles.
See also ...
• Kangaroo mother care – a broader definition of skin-to-skin
This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.
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