The benefits of skin-to-skin are rich, with studies, medical professionals and parents alike vouching for its efficacy. Not only does skin-to-skin benefit your baby in the moment and into the Fourth Trimester, it also sets them up throughout their lives.
This study, which examined children at 10 years of age, found that those who had received skin-to-skin contact as babies now displayed a range of benefits including better maternal attachment behaviour, reduced maternal anxiety, enhanced child cognitive development and good mother-child communication.
For this blog post, though, we’re turning our attention towards breastfeeding, and how skin-to-skin contact supports this.
It Helps to Produce Colostrum (your First Milk)
Practicing skin-to-skin has been shown to help the colostrum (the first, nutrient-rich breast milk to protect your baby) to flow more easily. This is important as the colostrum - a thick, sticky liquid that is sometimes called ‘liquid gold’ - is higher in protein, minerals, salt, vitamin A, nitrogen, white blood cells, and certain antibodies, and it has less fat and sugar than mature milk.
It's full of unique disease-fighting antibodies called immunoglobulins that strengthen your baby's immune system. When you feed your newborn colostrum, it's as though you're giving him his first vaccination.
A 2018 study also found that early skin-to-skin contact and colostrum exposure encouraged breastfeeding in very preterm babies.
Skin-to-Skin Strengthens Milk Supply
Skin-to-skin contact helps mom produce more of the hormone Oxytocin, which improves milk flow and bonding.
It’s also been shown to help moms breastfeed longer by building milk supply and strengthening the bond with the baby.
Your Baby is More Likely to Latch
Having your newborn baby placed on your chest for a period of time directly after birth is known as the “Golden Hour”. Studies and research (like this Stanford one) have shown that a baby who maintains skin-to-skin contact with its mother during this period is more likely to latch on to the breast.
If skin-to-skin contact continues for the following hours, days and weeks of your baby’s life - especially during the Fourth Trimester, your baby is not only more likely to breastfeed exclusively and for longer, but will also let you know when they are ready to feed.
Are you expecting a baby, or maybe you have a newborn? Follow us on Facebook or Instagram, or subscribe to our newsletter for our latest news and updates, or for more useful, baby-handling knowledge from our experienced Joeyband™ team.