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The benefits of skin-to-skin contact

April 29, 2020

 

Since time immemorial, skin-to-skin contact has been used to gently introduce newborns to the outside world. It’s a reassuring transition for the baby as well as for the parents.

 

Skin-to-skin contact: the definition

As its name suggests, skin-to-skin contact means holding your baby against you in direct contact with your skin, without clothing. This means a baby is snuggled against the bare chest or stomach of their mum or dad. This special time together has multiple benefits for both premature babies or full-term babies as well as parents.

 

From birth

When circumstances permit it, the newborn should be placed on their mother’s breast as soon as they are born. When this isn’t possible, such as in the case of caesarian births, it’s often up to the dad to take over. “This first skin-to-skin contact is a moment of calm after the storm of giving birth. We return to our basic instincts, far from all the medical side of things. We don’t ask ourselves whether the baby is too hot or too cold. When our baby is against us, they’re at the ideal temperature and everything is great,” says Alexandre, father of three children who were born by caesarian section. This is also why the dad is often advised to wear a shirt on the day of birth, as it’s easier to unbutton and rebutton, not to mention the emotional side this shirt will have, as it was the garment worn during their first contact with their child.

Then, once mum’s available again, skin-to-skin contact can take place in the recovery room, a moment that is always “magic!” Especially after a caesarian and 4 and a half hours before being able to hold my baby in my arms,” says @chloldt.

 

On return home

The initial skin-to-skin contact can continue during your child’s first few weeks and even months. @soamat_ says “We did a lot of skin-to-skin contact the first week after my home birth. It was soft and gentle and enabled us to establish continuity with pregnancy. I think it soothed my baby a lot as well as helping with my transition to motherhood as well as my lactation. It was a magic bubble, and I have very fond memories of it.”

 

The benefits of skin-to-skin contact for babies and parents

So, as you can see, skin-to-skin contact is magic. It promotes the well-being of both child and parents. Let’s go over its many benefits:

 

  • Regulates the temperature.As your baby is held against your body, which is at the ideal temperature, you don’t need to worry about the right temperature. In fact, your baby will actually be warmer held against your bare skin than dressed. Why? Because the temperature of a mother’s breasts increases by 0.5°C in just 2 minutes during skin-to-skin contact and stays that way until 10 minutes after it’s over. Magic, you see.
  • Strengthens the parent - baby bond.  Physical contact releases oxytocin, also known as the hormone for happiness, maternal love, and attachment, in both mother and baby. It’s a virtuous circle. Cuddles bring love and vice versa.
  • Soothes your baby, decreases their crying and stabilises their breathing and heart rate.Skin-to-skin contact reduces the baby’s stress hormones. So, if they’re crying or in emotional distress, it’s a good idea to hold them against you. This also helps to reduce your parental stress. Once again, you can thank oxytocin!
  • Helps with breastfeeding.During skin-to-skin contact, your baby is guided by their instincts and spontaneously makes the right motions to breastfeed. The oxytocin released during physical contact also stimulates the mother's milk ejection reflex. Mums (who’ve had caesarians) who want to breastfeed are advised to try skin-to-skin contact to trigger milk flow.
  • Reduce painas Dorothée alias @blackwhite.etc tells us “My son lost weight and had hypothermia due to a neglected cleft palate. Thanks to skin-to-skin contact, he was able to recover more quickly. Skin-to-skin contact was magic, we could even see its benefits during regular checkups, it was impressive! For 4 months, it was the only thing that was able to soothe him when he was in pain.

 

Skin-to-skin contact or the kangaroo method for premature babies

Inspired by marsupials whose babies finish their growth when inside their mother’s pouch, the kangaroo method is often used by neonatal services when the baby’s condition permits it. This method is also recommended by the WHO. “As a maternity nurse, I can say that skin-to-skin contact is the ultimate soother! Whether the baby does it with their father or their mother,” confirms Godeliève alias @godebq.

Skin-to-skin contact in premature babies shows the same benefits, such as temperature regulation, increase in weight, improvement in digestion, restful sleep, reduction of stress and strengthening of the parent-child bond.

And it’s the same on the parents’ side. Skin-to-skin contact for premature babies is amazing. “Victoire was born at 7 months, so I kept him for 2 months using skin-to-skin contact in the neonatal services at Annecy,” says Julie alias @Mamasavoy

Since 2016, we’ve been proud to be a partner of the neonatal resuscitation service at Necker Hospital in Paris with our Easy Lover skin-to-skin slings :-)

 

The Studio Romeo Easy Lover skin-to-skin sling

We came up with our Easy Lover sling to help with skin-to-skin contact. It was specially designed for this intimate moment, and really helps the baby and their parents. Thanks to its Velcro fastening, skin-to-skin care is gentle and safe. You just have to sit down or lie down and use it to enjoy this quality time with your baby and feel them calm down as they are held against you.

If you want to try Studio Romeo style skin-to-skin contact, we advise you to fasten the sling with the Velcro at the back. Then place your child in a vertical position against your chest. Slide the baby into the sling. Make sure you position them naturally with their head on the left or right side so they can breathe properly. Their shoulders should be flat against you and their neck should be in line with their spine. Newborns must lie in a natural foetal position with their spine slightly curved. Babies in their first few months should be in a W-shaped frog position (hips and arms folded with their legs spread) with their back slightly curved.

Click here to see how to use the Easy Lover skin-to-skin sling

If you want to tell us about your skin-to-skin experiences, you can find us on Instagram!


Size guide

1. WHICH SIZE SHOULD I CHOOSE?

Our baby carriers are currently available in two sizes : T1 and T2. The fabric is stretchy enough to adapt as best as possible to both the wearer's and the baby's bodies. 

Generally, T1 suits sizes from S to M and T2 suits larger sizes.


Important: The fabric will soften and relax during use and as the baby grows. It’s normal that the baby carrier feel a little snug during the first use.

And since each body is unique, you can try it quietly at home to see if it suits you and if not, you can send it back for a refund ;)

2. THE SIZE IS TOO SMALL - BABY IS TOO SQUASHED

You may experience a feeling of tightness but the goal is ultimately that the baby is held firmly against you and does not move, just like with a classic carrier. For the newborn position, depending on the morphology of both the baby and the wearer, it can quickly become restrictive. You can therefore place them into the sitting position early by respecting their physiological position and the natural spacing of their hips. The seating position will feel less snug as the legs will be out.

Also, do not hesitate to flatten the fabric on your back to leave more on the front.

Important: The fabric will soften and relax during use and as the baby grows.

3. THE SIZE IS TOO LARGE - BABY IS TOO LOW

Indeed your child should not be too low, or at least the position should remain as comfortable for them as it is for you and your baby should remain within reach for kisses. If this is not the case, you can make a loop with the fabric on each shoulder. You can make a loop by twisting the side of the scarf and reversing the hems so that the fabric is shortened and the baby is slightly lifted (see video section).

You can also wash your sling (30° or Warm setting in the washing machine) so that the fabric shrinks back to the original size (the product cannot be reimbursed once washed).