A lot of healthcare professionals have written about the benefits of skin-to-skin contact with newborns, with a big focus on the benefits of skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby right after birth. It’s in Doctor Book too. What’s occasionally overlooked is that it is important for dads as well. It won’t increase your breastmilk production – that’s a mom-only benefit – but there are a ton of other benefits to both you and baby.
Skin to skin contact helps with brain development, strengthening neural pathways. It calms and reduces stress. It can be particularly effective for getting fussy babies to sleep, and often improves the quality of baby sleep. That can be a lifesaver for those first sleep-starved months. It benefits the baby’s immune system, and by reducing cortisol in the baby’s system, also improves digestion.
Your baby isn’t the only one to benefit from skin-to-skin contact with dad. You’ll also see increased oxytocin (a “feel good” chemical) levels. That’ll help trigger a nurturing response and help you bond with the baby. That’ll pay off when you’re awake at 4am and wondering whether you made a mistake having a kid and maybe you should have just traveled the world or maybe started a band.
How to Do It
You should either have your shirt off, or, if you’re wearing a button-down shirt, unbuttoned is fine. Baby should be wearing only a diaper. Sit in a semi-reclined position. Place baby in a vertical position on your chest, with shoulders near or above your breastbone. You probably want to cover baby with a light blanket. Check in with baby every now and again, making sure baby isn’t having any issues with breathing or posture.Remember that it’s perfectly fine for baby to fall asleep like this, but you shouldn’t. It’s too easy to let baby slip, or wake with a start and rocket your newborn off your chest.