A new mother’s loving caress is more than simple comfort to an infant. Scientists have known for decades that touch is critically important for a child’s healthy development, according to an article in the Journal Pediatric Child Health.
A new study shows the amount a baby is touched can leave lasting, measurable effects – all the way down to the molecular level of the DNA. Those changes, could have negative or positive effects on the way the child grows and develops.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute studied 100 infants over four years. They asked parents of five-week-old babies to keep a journal of how long and how often they gave care to their child that involved physical contact.
When the children were four and a half years old, the scientists took a DNA sample. They wanted to see if there were any differences between children who were touched often as infants and those who were touched less often.
The researchers looked at a process called DNA methylation. In a body cell, there are structures called chromosomes that contain the genetic code of a person. They determine things like sex, physical features and personality traits.
In DNA methylation, some parts of the chromosome are “tagged” with molecules that can control how active that portion is. Scientists can generally predict how this should look as we age.
When they compared the methylation between the children in the study; they found consistent differences between the low-physical-contact and high-physical-contact children. In effect, the cells of the low-contact children were less mature than they should have been given the child’s actual age. That could result in the child experiencing delays in development and growth, said Michael Kobor, a professor in the Department of Medical Genetics, in the release.
The researchers said the findings are the first that show that touch “has deeply-rooted and potentially lifelong consequences on the epigenome — biochemical changes that affect gene expression.”
Perhaps this study is scientific proof for what we intuitively know is true; babies need our love and touch straight after birth. That is why hypnobirthing says it is essential to have contact with your baby immediately after birth.
The more a baby is cuddled after birth, the calmer he or she is. Birth can be traumatic for an infant, even the most natural and gentle birth. A baby has been securely held by his or her mother for nearly ten months. In fact, the closer to birth, the firmer the touch and protection felt. Therefore, it is essential for a baby to feel the security of the heartbeat, the warmth and softness of a mother’s embrace.
Hypnobirthing Hub babies are known for their calmness at birth. Skin to skin contact immediately after birth for an hour, is the corner stone of a Hypnobirthing technique. This calm state at birth is essential for the baby and also for the mother to create a deep bonding experience.
If a baby is placed straight on a mother’s chest in a natural birth or a caesarean birth, then the flow of oxytocin will be strong, in both mother and baby. This essential hormone, is the love hormone and is most effective in creating the deepest of bonds with the baby. What is not always noted; the baby’s oxytocin is also extremely high when calm and placed on the mother’s chest from birth.
Therefore, nature has a way for both mother and baby to fall into the deepest love and connection. Now science has proven the health benefits of lots of love and cuddles.
For more information on the Hypnobirthing Home Study Course.