by leading expert, Nicole Hastie
Skin to skin contact is time spent with your baby lying upright on your chest in direct contact with each other’s skin. Dads can enjoy skin to skin contact with their babies, which has huge benefits for your baby’s development and wellbeing, in the same way mums can. It also promotes healthy attachment. Skin to skin contact with your baby can rewire your brain ready for your role as a father. Feelings of protectiveness and connection which begin to develop during your baby’s gestation help form new neural pathways when you hold your baby close. Both dad and baby will have high levels of the hormone oxytocin during skin to skin contact which relaxes them both and reduces stress levels.
Skin to skin contact after birth
When your baby is born, assuming all is well, they will be placed directly onto the mum’s chest. When left in undisturbed skin to skin contact babies will initiate breastfeeding during the first hour after birth. So when is the right time for dad to have skin to skin contact?
When your baby has had their first feed mum may wish to rest and baby will be feeling sleepy too. This is a great time for dads to have skin to skin contact with their new baby. Dad’s can provide warmth and comfort during skin to skin contact which soothes babies and helps regulate their temperature, heart rate and breathing.
Dad and baby can also have skin to skin contact immediately after baby is born if mum is unwell or has had an anaesthetic. If your baby is born prematurely skin to skin contact is an important way to support their development. Dads can have skin to skin contact with their premature babies as soon as the baby is well enough and sharing this time with them can help them thrive, it is often called Kangaroo Care.