Did you know that Touch – your first sense – developed when you were the size of a jelly bean? For 7 more months you were touched by a warm fluid bath, so, what a shock when, at birth, latex hands, a chilly room and a world governed by gravity replaced the womb’s soothing touch.
Skin-to-skin contact between newborn and mother stimulates oxytocin, “the love hormone” that calms baby, supports bonding, stimulates mom’s uterine contractions to help expel placenta, reduce uterine bleeding, stimulate release of milk, and reduce incidence of post-partum depression.
At birth – and over time – touch supports communication between infant and caregivers.
Touch continues to trigger the oxytocin release that increases the infant’s responsiveness to caregivers.
Responsiveness increases the infant’s potential to thrive. Why? Human babies are born prematurely – that is, before the head is too large to fit through the birth canal, and before all their systems are fully developed. Caregivers are more likely to bond with this peeing, pooping, spitting up, wake-ful fretful, vulnerable, premature infant, when the infant rewards its caregivers with smiles & coos.
Skin is external portion of nervous system. They develop from the same embryonic tissue, so throughout life, touch influences all the functions governed by nervous system.