A recent study shows just how important it is for dads to do some skin-to-skin with their newborns too.
Mums are encouraged to engage in skin-to-skin contact with their newborns within moments of their arrival. This practice has been found to have endless amounts of benefits, including:
- Improvement in heart and lung function
- Stabilization of body temperature
- Regulation of blood sugar
- Initiation of breastfeeding
- Transfer of good bacteria
- Easy transition from the womb
- Boost in maternal-child bonding
But mums aren't the only ones who should be snuggling their little ones. A recent study shows just how important it is for dads to do some skin-to-skin with their newborns too.
In fact, the hormonal boost that they receive from these cuddles could actually make them better caregivers.
A team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame looked at how a dads' biology around the time of their children's birth affects their parenting, according to Science Daily.
Dame Assistant Professor of Anthropology Lee Gettler and lead author Patty Kuo teamed up with Notre Dame psychologists and Memorial Hospital of South Bend to analyse testosterone and cortisol in 298 men on the first two days of their newborns' lives.
The study, published in the journal Hormones and Behaviour, found that dads who had elevated levels of cortisol while holding their babies, during skin-to-skin, were more likely to be involved with caring for and playing with their infants during the first months of their lives.
Nurses at Memorial Hospital collected saliva samples from the fathers roughly an hour after their children's birth in order to gauge their hormone levels.
While the hospital is not directly connected to the hospital, the nurses told Science Daily that they were glad to participate, as the study is in line with their beliefs about the importance of skin-to-skin.
Gettler explained this study exemplifies the importance of fathers' presence at birth and engagement after:
“What we see in the special days around birth is that dads' hormones -- how much dads are producing overall and how their hormones quickly change when they hold their newborns -- are linked to what fathers are doing months later.
This relates to how men establish bonds with their newborns as well as with their partners and how they will co-parent.”
Aside from hormonal boosts, skin-to-skin contact with dads also empowers them to care for their children, facilitates emotional healing, and enables them to read babies' hunger cues, according to Belly Baby.
Considering all of the ways in which kangaroo care benefits fathers and babies, families should make it a priority following birth.
When writing for Pregnancy and Baby, Sharon Muza, recommends making use of the time when mom is away from Baby immediately after birth, such as going to the restroom or showering:
This is the ideal time for her partner to settle into a comfortable chair and get to know his newborn.
He should choose a cosy location — ideally, a rocking chair, if available — and have a few pillows handy, including one behind Dad’s back.
After being seated, have Dad take off his shirt and keep baby dressed in just a diaper. Have a few warm, soft blankets ready to cover the baby with.
From there, Dad places the baby so that they are chest-to-chest, supporting Baby with two hands and covering them both in a blanket.
The two can stay like that for a while, letting the bond grow.
As important as it is for mothers and babies to bond, dads are key too.
Laura Doyle, mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Writer and blogger at www.lovelifeandlittleones.com.