Baby bonding with Dad - Skin to skin

time for baby to bond with dad

Fathers (or partners) who get skin-to-skin time with their newborns in the first 24 hours report bonding better with their babies. Are you doing what you can to make sure this happens?

Learn how easy it is to integrate this into the first hours after your baby is born.

Benefits for babies

Snuggling skin-to-skin with mother after birth is the most desirable place for just-born babies. There are also benefits to babies and fathers/partners when the newborn is skin-to-skin with them in the first hours. Researchers have found that newborns cry less and achieve a drowsy, contented state sooner when they are skin-to-skin with their dads as opposed to being in a bassinette. The father’s bare chest stabilizes the baby’s body temperature to a normal range, reduces newborn stress and helps keep the baby’s blood sugar within normal limits.

Benefits for dads and partners

When a father has a chance to hold his newborn skin-to-skin on his chest he releases oxytocin, often called the love hormone. This hormone supports bonding and trust in humans, and is the same hormone that makes a woman’s uterus contract in labor. When the dad’s endocrine system releases oxytocin as a result of this skin-to-skin contact with his newborn, he can’t help but fall in love with this new little person. His body is flooded with oxytocin and the connection grows.

Make it happen

In the first few hours after birth, mom will likely be getting up to go to the restroom and even take a shower. This is the ideal time for her partner to settle in to a comfortable chair and get to know his newborn. He should choose a cozy 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.

Dad holds baby upright so they are chest-to-chest and skin-to-skin. Dad gently supports baby with two hands and draws a warm blanket over him and the baby. Partner gets to settle back and feel the world slow down. There is nothing better than the feel of a newborn’s skin. Talking to baby helps, as dad’s voice is familiar and comforting. This is a great time ask friends, family or hospital staff to snap a few pictures. They will become a cherished keepsake.

In some cases, mom may not be able or want to hold her newborn immediately after birth. If this is the case, partner’s chest is the perfect place for the baby to wait until mom is ready and able to snuggle with her baby. Baby will appreciate the sounds and sensations of being held by her father, and quickly settle down.

Even after the first few days have passed, skin-to-skin time with dad at home will continue to provide benefits to both, and reassures partners that their baby welcomes this closeness.

About the author

Sharon MuzaSharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE is a birth doula, Lamaze certified childbirth educator and CBE trainer, author and international speaker. Through her practice, New Moon Birth, located in Seattle, Washington, Sharon empowers families and birth professionals through support and education. Sharon is also the community manager for Science & Sensibility, Lamaze International's blog for childbirth professionals.

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