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The benefits of extra cuddles: Why skin-to-skin is important

Can you believe your baby is finally in your arms? Congratulations mama! Of all the important milestones your baby will reach over the next year, being able to take your baby home ranks right on top of that list.

Despite the first couple of days feeling like a whirlwind, you might find that few things feel as natural and calming as holding your new baby. One way to strengthen your bond with your baby is to create plenty of opportunities for skin-to-skin contact. And this isn't an exclusive perk of motherhood! Dads are encouraged to enjoy quality kangaroo time with their little bundle too.

A growing body of evidence suggests that the benefits of skin-to-skin contact are more than, well, skin deep. According to the UNICEF's The Baby Friendly Initiative, facilitating skin-to-skin between mother and baby can have the following benefits:

Calms and relaxes both mother and baby

A crying baby can be overwhelming, but it does make it a little easier when you feel calm and more relaxed. If your baby's basic needs are met (clean diaper, well-fed, dressed appropriately) holding your baby will help you both to take a deep breath and perhaps even find a little joy in the chaos.

Regulates the baby’s heart rate and breathing

A stable heart rate will help increase oxygenation and improve your baby's sleep (the jury is still out if new moms will ever know what sleep is!). Deeper breaths, more oxygen and good sleep help your baby's brain development which is crucial considering they're learning so much during the first few weeks of life.

Stimulates digestion and interest in feeding

Regardless of how you chose to feed your baby, a well-fed baby is a happy baby. Make skin-to-skin part of your feeding routine by removing your shirt during breast- or bottle feeding. Bottle feeds are also a great way for dads to benefit from skin-to-skin.

Regulates temperature

Did you know that your baby won't be able to regulate their temperature until they are around 18 months? We know that feels like a lifetime away, but skin-to-skin time can help your baby stay warm with you both snuggled up in a blanket on colder days, or stay cool when the mercury is rising.

No matter how you decide to spend time with your newborn, incorporating skin-to-skin time holds immense value for your entire family. Make sure you get as many cuddles as you can and enjoy this most precious time with your baby.

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