Cuddles aren’t just fun – they’re a way to bond and boost health for both of you
1 You’ll work out what he wants
Supermodel Natalia Vodianova recently posted on Instagram a pic of herself feeding baby Maxim in the buff. And while we can’t promise it’ll give you supermodel looks, skin-to-skin contact will help you bond with your newborn.
‘Holding your baby’s bare chest to your own after birth and in the first months helps you tune into his needs,’ says Francesca Entwistle, advisor for UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative.
'Skin contact helps regulate his heart rate and temperature'
2 It encourages your baby’s brain to develop
New research shows it also encourages your baby’s brain to develop - the way your baby bonds with you influences the way his brain organizes itself and boosts his emotional and social development.
3 It keeps him calm
‘Skin-to-skin promotes oxytocin, the love hormone,’ says Francesca. It also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
‘Birth is a stressful process for your baby. Skin contact helps regulate his heart rate and temperature,’ says paediatrician Dr Flaudia Petrone.
4 It keeps his energy levels stable
One recent study showed that blood glucose levels in newborns who had immediate skin-to-skin were at healthier levels than in those who didn’t.
After your baby is born, levels can dip if he isn’t feeding well or is stressed.
5 It boosts your baby’s immune system
'The bacteria on your skin colonises the baby and acts as an extra form of protection'
‘The womb is a sterile environment,’ says Dr Flaudia. ‘The bacteria on your skin colonises the baby and acts as an extra form of protection.’
It’s a controlled way for your baby to get used to the kind of bacteria and germs that he’ll soon be coming into contact with.
6 It helps dads to bond
Skin-to-skin will intensify your partner’s bond with your baby – good to know if you’ve had a c-section and feel guilty that you’re finding holding your baby uncomfortable. Hand him over, we say.