When we ask people who have had children about the most memorable day of their life, they pretty much all say, “The day my child was born.”
When your baby is born, it tends to create an exciting and fascinating immediate bond between you and the baby. And fortunately for us today, we are fully aware of the importance of the first moments between a baby and its parents.
But don’t take it for granted. In a still recent past, people didn’t realize as much as we do today how important the first few hours and days of baby-parent contact are for the baby, as well as for the parents.
Giving birth to a baby today is very different than what it used to be 40 years ago. Not only do medical staff better understand what’s going on in the tiny body of the baby now, but they understand that the immediate bond happens right after birth.
We should also be thankful to the human side of the medical staff that delivers babies today, which has developed alongside with medical advancement. Only 30 years ago, doctors believed that babies couldn’t feel any pain and would operate on them without real anesthesia. Today, not only do they understand that a newborn does feel physical pain as a full small human being that they are, but can also greatly benefit from contact with their parents.
In this article, we are going to discuss those little extra important contacts that will make your baby healthier and happier from the minute he or she is born until the first few months, which will carry on into the rest of his/her life.
First Vital Skin-to-Skin Contact With Your Baby
Something that is practiced today right after birth which wasn’t done in the past is the skin-to-skin contact.
It’s practiced all throughout the Western world today because we have come to understand that it’s beneficial for both the baby and the mother.
Studies have shown that skin-to-skin contact helps the baby with the following:
- It regulates the baby’s body temperature.
- It regulates the baby’s heart rate.
- It regulates baby’s blood sugar.
- It regulates the baby’s breathing.
- It calms the baby and favors the first breastfeeding.
The first skin-to-skin contact doesn’t only help the baby, it also helps the mother with:
- Contracting the uterus.
- Decreasing bleeding.
- Stimulating milk hormones.
While other animals seem to instinctively know what’s good for their newborn, it took humans longer to understand some of the benefits of skin-to-skin contact between baby and mom right after birth.
Even though this involves the mother for the first few minutes to hours after birth, both the mother and the father can continue practicing skin-to-skin contact as much as possible during the baby’s first few months.
An easy time to continue practicing this closeness for mothers is when breastfeeding, of course, but fathers can take advantage of skin-to-skin contact while taking a shower with the baby in their arms, for example.
Both mothers and fathers who have practiced regular skin-to-skin contact with their newborn baby tend to have an even more special bond with their child.
If your baby was born while you were unconscious or had to be taken away for health reasons before you could hold him at birth, it’s never too late to start as soon as possible. You can practice daily skin-to-skin contact for at least the first 3 months, and even after.
Breastfeeding: Health and Nutritional Benefits
Interestingly enough, breastfeeding seems to be only a matter of choice for some unsuspecting mothers, but the truth of the matter is that breastfeeding is part of motherhood, and it has never been intended to be used only when it’s convenient to the mother.
Sadly though, this is how some new mothers see it because they may value their body and comfort more than the crucial short term and long term health benefits of breastfeeding.
It’s not because they don’t love their baby, but more out of ignorance that they bypass this essential step in the life of their newborn.
Breastfeeding is not just an ancient way of feeding newborns, it’s much more than that. Breastfeeding has vital health and nutritional benefits.
Here are some of them…
- It helps the baby fight germs and viruses.
- It reduces the risk and severity of allergies.
- It’s a great fighter against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- It helps the baby fight against child cancers such as leukemia.
- It helps the baby’s brain to grow and develop better.
- It helps the baby’s overall strength and immune system.
But there is more…
- Studies have shown that breastfed babies have less learning and behavioral difficulties than non-breast fed babies.
- Breastfed babies are hardly ever constipated and have less risk for diarrhea.
- Breastfeeding helps the baby better adapt and develop a taste for solid food because the baby has been tasting food through the mother’s milk for weeks to months.
- Breastfed babies have less diaper rash and other skin problems.
- It also helps reduce juvenile onset diabetes.
There are more known and maybe even unknown benefits of breastfeeding. That’s not to say it’s wrong not to breastfeed, but it’s something you should definitely consider before your baby is born.
Communicating With Your Newborn Baby
Communication with your baby starts the day he is born (and even before that).
It’s very important to communicate with your newborn baby. You can do this by touching and looking at him in the eyes, talking to him, smiling at him, showing him around pointing at things and describing them as you go.
Your newborn baby is a person. He may not consciously understand things yet, but he already benefits from the connection and interaction to a degree that you may not fully understand.
Of course, communication with your newborn baby is not only for mom, it’s very important that dad participates as much as possible in the connection, communication and interaction with the baby during the vital first few months.
Knowing what you know now, there’s definitely a bit more to consider during the first moments of your baby’s life. However, the list doesn’t end here – if you have any other thoughts or ideas you’d like to share, we’d all love to hear them by submitting a comment below!
This article was written by a Starlight Baby writer, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the company as a whole. We understand and accept that different situations call for different sets of actions, and we never believe there is always one ‘right’ way to go about things.