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Why Is Skin To Skin Contact With Dads So Important?

Today, Sister Susan is back to share with us another one of her many interesting & educational stories she had encountered back in her nursing work in the Middle East.

“I was working in one of the baby friendly hospitals in the Middle East and had witnessed an amazing instance of skin to skin contact between a young father and his baby.”

The father was eager to leave the unit after greeting the baby. So, we asked him to get in on skin-to-skin care for his baby son after detailing to him all the benefits that the little boy will reap from it. He reluctantly agreed. As a Middle-Eastern man, he had a “very” hairy chest. It was not comfortable for the little boy to breathe with his head nestled in his chest hair.

She expressed that the baby’s mother was not able to visit her baby in the neonatal ICU ward, as she had seizure episodes and her blood pressure was not stabilised. We knew that it would be good to nurture bonding with infant via skin to skin contact as soon as possible. In view that the new mother was not ready, the nursing team instead consulted the baby’s dad to try.

Sister Susan recalled, “He was hesitant at first as most Middle Eastern men have very hairy chests; and he was afraid his baby would not be able to breathe with his head nestled in his chest hair”. We got around this by covering the top of the dad's chest with a cloth and instead letting the baby's lower body have direct contact with the dad. It was only a “partial” skin-to-skin, but it was all we could do to ensure that the baby could still comfortably breathe. The dad visited again the next day, and this time he was the one who requested to have skin-to-skin care with the baby. When the dad exposed his chest, he proudly showed off his cleanly shaven chest (the top part of it). He said that this would allow the baby to breathe easily, enjoy, and reap the full benefits of the care! I was very impressed.

This father has clearly enjoyed the emotional benefits and intimacy between him and his son, knowing that what he has done will improve his son’s health. Such is the power of fatherly love.

Skin-to-skin care is one of the initial steps for successful breastfeeding. With skin-to-skin contact, the baby cries less, has better temperature regulation, a more stable heartbeat and breathing, higher blood oxygen levels, and is proven to improve brain development and function, as well as forging a deeper parental attachment.


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