Now, there’s more reason to cuddle with your newborn after birth--and it's not just for baby.
Early this year, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched the First Embrace campaign that can save 50,000 newborn babies. It highlights early essential newborn care (ENCC), a set of actions that address the most common causes of newborn death or disease, such as being born prematurely, low birth weight, and severe infection. EENC begins with sustained skin-to-skin contact between the mother and child shortly after birth, which transfers warmth, placental blood and protective bacteria, and promotes exclusive breastfeeding.
Now there’s new research that proves skin-to-skin contact also give new mothers a crucial benefit in starting their journey to motherhood.
An ongoing study, which was presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition recently, shows that new moms cuddling with their newborns even for just an hour a day also eases mothers' anxiety and lowers their stress level and helps facilitate bonding. That’s on top of the known physiological benefits of skin-to-skin contact to newborns such as stabilization of heart rate, breathing patterns and blood oxygen levels, gains in sleep time and weight, decreased crying, greater breastfeeding success and earlier hospital discharge.
"We found that all of the mothers reported an objective decrease in their stress level after skin-to-skin contact with their babies," said neonatologist Natalia Isaza, M.D., F.A.A.P. of Children's National Health System in Washington, DC. This holds true especially for mothers who are stressed from being separated from their infants, feeling helpless and unable to protect their baby. The study provides more evidence that skin-to-skin contact promotes bonding between mother and child, health and emotional wellness, and the interpersonal relations of parents, as well as breastfeeding.
Indeed, the first few weeks after childbirth can be overwhelming for new moms, but it’s not impossible to recover. Obstetrician-gynecologist Patricia Kho, M.D., of the Makati Medical Center, St. Luke’s Global, and East Avenue Medical Center, says, “First-time moms can experience a lot of anxiety about whether they are doing things right or not, while others may feel empowered because they are able to give birth and/or breastfeed.” The key really is to be kind to yourself and allow time for adjustments. If you don’t feel the bond right away, work on it. Rest and double up on cuddling time with your newborn.
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Source: October 23, 2015. “Skin-to-Skin Contact with Baby in Neonatal Unit Decreases Maternal Stress Levels” (aap.org)