Dear God Should Dads Do Skin To Skin?
The endless lists of birthing classes will never prepare you for the most magical event of your life. In almost every newborn class the nurse explains the detailed process between mothers and babies. I’ll never forget in our birthing class she quickly referenced that on the day of dads (or partners) usually have that look on their face like a deer in the headlights: What am I supposed to be doing? It all starts with the power hour and what most couples don’t realize dads (or partners) are a significant part of this moment, and it’s all starts with one simple touch.
Imagine you’re in a calm comfy environment for nine months, and suddenly you moved to a room that is cold, bright and unfamiliar. Your senses will automatically be in shock; in fact, your bodies dynamics will be interrupted leaving you with endless emotion. This is exactly what happens to babies; you’ll hear a cry trying to adapt at an instant moment. It’s quite fascinating that we as humans can communicate nonverbally which is hardly a new psychological discovery. Doctors and researchers have documented for years all the different emotions and desires that our posture, motions, and expressions reveal. Is this the real reason why dads or partners having skin to skin from the moment after birth is so crucial?
During the development of my research for this article, I made it my focus to ask the right questions to find what are the ultimate benefits. We know that babies benefit from skin to skin which helps improve brain development, immune system, reduces stress and helps with sleep, but I wanted to dig deeper from a long term perspective on how the first couple of minutes of the babies life not only can impact dads brain and body but babies until their adolescent years.
I reached out to Public Health Physician, Dr. Nils Bergman an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Pediatrics and Honorary Research Associate in Human Biology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and he tells Romper, “ In my latest research I have found that thirty minutes within the first hour of a baby being born in which Dads have skin – to -skin can actually rewire dad’s brain.” This is incredible because now the neurons in dad or partners brains not only release oxytocin that generates the love hormone and safety component but it also reinvents a connection of habit that dads or partners have created to stimulate the baby. To rewire one's brain through touch sounds peculiar but how long will this affect the baby as well.
I came across a researcher, Psychologist Matthew Hertenstein, from DePauw University where he demonstrated that we have an innate ability to interpret emotions with touch. I could see a distinct correlation because as adults our body language says so much but when Matthew came to a broader conclusion that we are living in " a touch-phobic society," He explained further that we're not used to touching family, or even our friends, necessarily and this affects us as
adults." At first, I was confused because in my culture as a Latina the way we greet someone is with a kiss on the cheek. We learned this as a child in just observing with any interaction. Then I realized when Dads or partners begin their personalized bond with the baby; it's embedding the babies brain memory to form a special relationship which is the same habits they form in mammas belly for nine months.
As your baby gets older, they will experience so many events that will trigger wanting to be held, the feeling of being protected or sharing an emotion through physical touch. They will become conditioned to intertwine this memory as a baby which leads them to grow up knowing that mommy, daddy or partner is a safe environment to release these emotions. It makes sense with everything I’ve read from the infamous book by Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages. Where some express “I didn’t grow up in a touchy-feely family” and almost instinctively has the outcome in how we react physically in our adulthood relationships.
The rewiring of dads or partners brains is just the psychological aspect not to mention who wouldn’t want a cute, little warm baby close to their chests. The babies are adopting a new method of connection with all five senses. This must be the reason why most times mom hands the baby to dad or partner, and within a flash, the baby is sound sleep. I wonder if we hug dads or partners every day, their brain will be rewired to remember to take out the trash.
Dad or partner get ready to Kangaroo all your unconditional love for your baby because it all starts with skin to skin