Physical touch is one of the ways humans, or maybe even animals, express their love. In fact, it is one of the established five love languages conceptualized by the famous author, Dr. Gary Chapman. According to him, people whose love language is physical touch show their concern, care, and affection to other people through hugs, a thoughtful touch on the arm, and others. The recipients of the touch would feel warm, safe, and loved.
Physical touch is also crucial in newborn care, and in such context, it is known as skin-to-skin contact. Former beauty queen Miriam Quiambao-Roberto previously shared on Instagram a very serene and special moment of her new baby, Elijah, sleeping peacefully on her bare skin. The photo exactly depicts skin-to-skin contact with a newborn.
What is skin-to-skin contact?
Skin-to-skin contact is the practice in which a newborn baby is dried and laid on the mother’s bare chest immediately after birth. The mother can continue practicing skin-to-skin contact any time her baby needs her comfort. Skin-to-skin contact is also called ‘kangaroo care’.
After birth, babies who are in skin-to-skin with their mothers begin to move, starting with little movements from arms, shoulders, and head, and then they will start to draw up their knees and will seemingly crawl towards their mother’s breast. They have instincts that will lead them to their first breastfeed. If they get familiar with their mother’s breast and achieve self-attachment, breastfeeding problems are less likely to occur.
Benefits of skin-to-skin contact
Both parents and babies benefit from skin-to-skin contact. It is helpful in stimulating milk production among mothers and consequently boosts the mother’s milk supply. Being skin-to-skin with babies also strengthens the bond between the parents and their baby.
Among babies, skin-to-skin contact is very important as it helps them to adjust to their life outside of the womb. It also regulates their temperature, heart rate, and breathing. It also calms them down when they are uncomfortable. It also encourages interest in breastfeeding and stimulates digestion.
During skin-to-skin contact, the skin of the baby is colonized with friendly bacteria from the mother’s skin. These good bacteria contribute to an improved immune system among babies and provide protection against infection. Continued skin-to-skin contact also assists in the baby’s growth. It is known to contribute to better physical and developmental outcomes.
Skin-to-skin contact is encouraged in both normal and cesarean section deliveries. The benefits to both mother and baby cannot be disregarded. If done and continued, the benefits can have a long-term impact. If you’re pregnant or planning to have a baby, it will be good to bring this up to your doctor during your birth plan discussion.