The Benefits of Skin to Skin

IMG_5045The first touch. What can I say, my words will never measure up. The moment the long hours of labour ended and out came my utterly perfect baby. The moment I first laid eyes on her little body and hairy head. And the moment her bare body was placed on my bare chest. These moments have made a believer of a sceptic. They have made me believe that magic does exist. Special moments don’t get more special than this.

Skin to skin. The touch of that delicate, paper thin skin on the mother’s chest is enough to warm up the most bitterly cold days and nights. It’s the touch that regulates heartbeat in babies and makes the mother and child’s hearts beat in tandem. It calms a fussy baby down, it helps a tired baby doze off. This works when nothing else seems to. I can tell you that with utter conviction because at home, this has been working ever since and is still going strong, two years down the line.

Two years might not seem long in the grand scheme of things but for a baby, two years are a lifetime. In the first two years, many things are turned on their heads, new things discovered and old things forgotten. What doesn’t change is how skin to skin feels. Neither for the parents nor for the baby. Be it a baby that was born in a hospital or one born at home, be it one with luxury or one with none, it is prolonged touch with the mother or the father’s skin taking in their scent that makes babies experience the purest and the most raw version of trust. It is this simple yet powerful touch that bonds children with their parents for their lifetimes and more. It weaves an extra special umbilical cord outside the amniotic sac and what’s more, it’s a cord that never needs to be cut.

There is a beautiful video called Pure Love on YouTube that talks about the science behind what we mothers have known instinctively since time immemorial – a hug, a cuddle, a snuggle can change everything. Watching the video made me relieve all the overwhelming emotions I had felt right after giving birth and how the first instances of feeling my baby against my body felt.

I must also mention here that Gini and daddy got a few beautiful hours of skin to skin right after birth when I was rushed into the operation theatre for a post-birth complication. As I was kept in recovery, I was restless, hating every moment that I was away from my baby but as I was wheeled in, I saw my husband sitting on a chair, head bent low with a beautiful little bundle snuggled inside his green t-shirt – our baby! Being a father, I imagine, could be lonely at times. With the mother feeling the baby exclusively during pregnancy, it could make bonding with their babies that much more real when fathers indulge in some skin on skin and I couldn’t be happier that my people had the good fortune of experiencing that so early on in the relationship.

Skin to skin doesn’t always have to mean stripping down your baby. On a cold night or in countries with long, cold winters, rubbing your baby’s feet or back as you change them, rubbing warm oil in your palms before touching your baby as you change her diaper, gently rubbing your cheek against her all count. Can you tell I am guilty of indulging in this a bit too often?

So, do you do skin to skin? Do you cuddle vs swaddle? Would you like to try it when you have a baby? Talk to me!


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