When midwives aren’t (rightly) encouraging mum to breastfeed, the other thing they mention a lot is the benefit of skin-to-skin contact after birth, and not just during breastfeeding. It’s not just mums either; while they’ll get a lot of health benefits, as will baby, everyone can benefit from it. Much like MDMA, skin-to-skin contact releases oxytocin, a bonding hormone, which increases the feeling of closeness. Though medical professionals tend to prefer to refer to it as the ‘hugging hormone’ than make any direct comparisons to the effects of ecstasy, for some reason.
- Relief of stress, in baby and parent
- Better temperature regulation in baby
- Apparently better brain development in baby, possibly due to better heart rate regulation
- Better sleep for baby, and subsequently the parents, again due to better heart rate regulation
- Reduces likelihood of post-natal depression.
So, whether mum or dad, whip your shirt off. It’s not like you needed an excuse to cuddle your little one, but now you have one.