Spending time holding your baby skin-to-skin is a great way for fathers to bond with their babies. Skin-to-skin care has been shown to have a variety of benefits for babies, calming and stabilizing the infant. Ideally, as soon as a baby is born, it should be placed directly to it's mother's breast for care and feeding, but when this isn't possible because of cesarean delivery or medical complications, the father providing skin-to-skin care has also been shown to be beneficial. Of course, even if the mother is available to immediately take the baby, there will always time for the father to spend time later holding the baby skin-to-skin and have that bonding experience.
Some men may feel uncomfortable taking their shirts off in the hospital, but remember this is for the baby's benefit and there is medical research to back it up. Besides, this is your childbirth experience and the hospital staff is supposed to be there to support you, you should not feel uncomfortable about caring for your baby as you see fit.
Especially if the mother is not available immediately after birth or if your baby requires extended care in NICU, etc, you should insist upon being able to provide skin-to-skin care for your baby. If you want some evidence to show your health care provider or hospital staff regarding the benefits of skin-to-skin care, you can use these references:
Skin-to-skin care with the father after cesarean birth and its effect on newborn crying and prefeeding behavior.
Finally, daddies in the delivery room: parents' education in Georgia.
Onset of vocal interaction between parents and newborns in skin-to-skin contact immediately after elective cesarean section.
Sex differences in newborn interaction with mother or father during skin-to-skin contact after Caesarean section.
Current knowledge about skin-to-skin (kangaroo) care for preterm infants.
Comparison of skin-to-skin (kangaroo) and traditional care: parenting outcomes and preterm infant development.
They are all from peer-reviewed medical journals indexed by pubmed.
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