The term skin-to-skin is in virtually every baby book you'll read and, if you haven't heard it during your pregnancy yet, you're bound to hear it once your baby is born. For some moms, the thought of being skin-to-skin with your baby is sweet enough, but many want to know: does skin-to-skin help me bond with my baby?
According to The Bump, a common fear for moms-to-be is that they won't feel bonded to their baby. While some may feel a connection the minute their pregnancy test turns pink, others worry that they won't feel any differently to their own newborn than they do someone else's child. But luckily, skin-to-skin can help.
A 2014 article published in The Journal of Perinatal Education noted that skin-to-skin immediately following birth is incredibly beneficial for both mom and baby. When you experience skin-to-skin with your baby, oxytocin is released, which can stimulate mothering feelings as you touch, look at, and breastfeed your baby. That same hormone can also promote a mother and baby attachment to help the two of you bond, the article noted.
"Uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby is part of the normal physiologic process designed to help baby find the breast, bond with mom, and help mom expel the placenta," Deena Blumenfeld tells Romper. Blumenfeld is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE), Fellow of American College of Childbirth Educators (FACCE), and owns Shining Light Prenatal Education. Within the first hour or so is best, she notes, but if a complicated delivery or health issue permits skin-to-skin immediately following delivery, it's OK. Skin-to-skin is still beneficial even months after birth.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended skin-to-skin for parents with babies in the NICU, too. Both parents are encouraged to try skin-to-skin (also known as "kangaroo care") as a way to reconnect with their baby and build an attachment, especially in the NICU when there are so many nurses and doctors tending to your little one.
But there's another major benefit. A 2012 study in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing found that moms who spent more time applying skin-to-skin contact had lower depression scores. By the time the baby was 1 month old, the depression scores were even lower.
Whether your baby is only 1 week old or getting ready to try their first food, skin-to-skin can be a great way to bond and reconnect with them. It is a common practice in hospitals (and often encouraged by lactation consultants to promote exclusive breastfeeding) and is an easy, sweet way to pump up that oxytocin with your little one. I mean, let's be honest, anything that requires you to be still in order to bond with your kid is a plus, right? You can even keep the Netflix remote handy.