The benefits of skin to skin mommy snuggles has been talked about and researched as beneficial for many reasons but what about the benefits of skin to skin daddy snuggles?
Nils Bergman, a Swedish specialist in perinatal neuroscience, first introduced the benefits of skin to skin and what would come to be known as Kangaroo Mother Care, in the 1980s. His studies initially centered around premature and low birth weight babies but the proven benefits of skin to skin snuggles were undeniable and there was clear evidence that skin to skin would benefit all babies.
Bergman recently presented evidence that skin to skin time with Dad actually has the ability to rewire Dad's brain activity. Mothers have a natural chemical and hormonal response to new motherhood after birth but it is this skin to skin bonding time with Dad that can help to prepare fathers for new fatherhood.
When Dad gets to spend time skin to skin with their newborn baby the brain experiences an increase in dopamine and dopamine is related to feelings of pleasure. This rise in dopamine helps to create a positive association with snuggling their new baby and essentially "kick starts" the natural parenting instinct to love and protect their child. Of course having this skin to skin time is not the be all end all indicator of parenting ability and instinct but it is a nice way to start the relationship between father and child.
This bonding of course benefits the baby as well. Baby is used to the familiar sound of Dad's voice and the sound of a heartbeat through the chest. Newborn babies benefit from close contact and snuggles and Dad's body temperature can help to regulate baby's temperature. Skin to skin snuggles also helps to accelerate baby's brain development, it calms, soothes and reduces stress (for everyone), it improves baby's sleep quality and enhances their immune system.
How to snuggle skin to skin:
Dad should have his shirt off and he can get comfortable in a semi-reclined chair.
Baby is dressed down to their diaper and nothing else.
Place baby in a vertical position on Dad's chest with their head resting under Dad's chin.
Make sure to check baby's position every now and then. Their head should be turned to the side and in an easy to breathe position.
The recommended time spent snuggling is at least 30mins but c'mon Dad's, get comfortable and enjoy this snuggle time with your precious little one for as long as you want.
Dads, I would love to hear about your skin to skin snuggle experiences and how this time benefited you and your baby so please share!