Touch is the purest form of showing affection, and it helps us create strong bonds. New moms are encouraged to hold their newborns on their skin. This gives the baby security, and it’s introduced to the world.
Physical touch has a huge impact on babies’ development. It helps them develop physical abilities, cognitive skills, language and emotions.
Prematurely born babies are usually put in incubators. However, doctors in the Scandinavian region of Europe encourage skin-to-skin contact. This helps babies recover and develop faster. Incubators can’t be compared to human touch.
One particular story melted our hearts. A viral photo of a father and his son brought tears to our eyes. In this photo, the little boy and his dad give skin-to-skin to his prematurely born twin siblings. This is love in its raw form. That’s how you create a special bond.
The photo was taken in 2016 at the Hvidovre Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark. Forældre og Fødsel, a Danish family advocacy organization, was the first to post it on Facebook. It was later uploaded by the South Africa-based NINO Birth Organization, and that’s when it became viral.
The caption read, “Skin-to-skin contact is not ‘new’, but Sweden certainly leads the way in making this care family-friendly, even for very tiny babies. I love this picture of big brother helping his dad care for the twins!”
NINO stands for Neuroscience for Improved Neonatal Outcomes. Their official page offers the perfect explanation for the power of skin-to-skin contact.
“How your baby is born matters!! Putting your newborn baby skin-to-skin on your chest-at birth makes all the difference between feeling safe or unsafe. Mother’s chest is the SAFE place. Here baby is warmed, and heart and lungs work best. The baby can find the breast and latch on. From the breast, the baby will make eye contact with mum.
“This starts bonding, even in the first hour of life. From here parenting comes naturally and is fun. This is important for caesareans also, and even more for fragile premature babies.
This is so different to what often happens. Without you, your baby is stressed and anxious. The stress will make baby’s body unstable. The anxiety prevents trust and love from forming. Can a tiny newborn feel anxious and abandoned? Very much so! It is the difference that we focus on.”
In Sweden, doctors encourage parents to practice skin-to-skin contact. Even babies who weigh 700g can be nursed by their parents.
Renowned Swedish Professor UWE Ewald is an advocate for this practice. He was in the Hvidocre hospital at the time this photo was taken. He has a long history of helping premature babies. Even extremely small babies can be given skin-to-skin contact.
Small babies are cleaned, dried and wrapped in their nappies. Caregivers are topless, and babies rest on their chest. After an hour, the baby is fed and put in the incubator again. According to Dr. Ewald, this practice keeps babies warm and protects them from infections by “sending” protective bacteria into their system.
“Uwe Ewald points out that the parent’s chest regulates the temperature better than an incubator,” the Facebook post reads.
“Skin to skin contact helps the baby to breathe better. The child becomes calmer and gains weight faster. Research shows that parent’s bacterial flora — compared with hospital bacteria — reduces the risk of serious infections in these delicate children.”
Hundreds of thousands of people approve this practice, and they all shared their support in the comments section. Here are some of the best comments:
“This is amazing,” Shelly F. was impressed. “My baby was prem and born at 4 pounds 7 ounces and I wasn’t allowed to hold him most of the time, I was only ever offered skin to skin twice and he was in care for 26 days. I wasn’t allowed to stay with him. The most stressful time of my life but baby is ok and healthy. It’s a shame Australia isn’t on board with this…”
“All of my older kids had to take a turn with the new baby inside their t-shirts as he was so fractious (not a babba anymore)…” Marie F. shared her experience. “It settled him. The more ‘new’ trends I see emerging make me proud that I have been doing things right for years… Trust your instincts… Lovely pic.”
“I couldn’t hold my twins until one week after they were born,” Emily Ann wrote. “Our skin to skin contact was so bittersweet and will definitely never be forgotten.”
Stephanie Savole says, “I love this and wish this could have been happening where I live when my daughter was born. I cried looking at her in that machine.”
Malin N. wrote, “15 years ago in Sweden my very sick, tiny, heartsick baby spent most of her time on my husband’s chest. Not sure if she would make it, we treasured every minute she was brought out of the incubator. Today she is a healthy beautiful young lady.”
Unfortunately, most young parents don’t dare to do this without consulting their doctors first. Babies are so fragile, and we sort of understand their fear.
Well, a parent can never go wrong with the “kangaroo care.” This practice was first introduced to support the development of premature babies in areas where incubators weren’t commonly used.
Hopefully, this practice will be accepted in other parts of the world. Infants need all the love they can get, and their mom’s skin is much warmer than the incubator.
Skin-to-skin contact also improves the production of oxytocin. It’s time to give babies all the love in this world. They are so tiny and fragile.