Breastfeeding can provide important bonding time between parent and baby, but have you ever wondered why it can feel like such a powerful experience?
Let’s take a look!
Oxytocin is produced by the pituitary gland and is released in response to various stimuli, including touch, sight, sound, and even smell - and that includes your baby! When a baby begins to breastfeed, the stimulation of the baby's mouth on the nipple can trigger the release of oxytocin, which causes the milk ducts to contract and release milk.
Fun fact - oxytocin is also known as ‘the love hormone’! Oxytocin can induce anti-stress-like effects such as reduction of blood pressure and cortisol levels. It increases pain thresholds, exerts an anxiolytic-like effect and stimulates various types of positive social interaction. In addition, it promotes growth and healing.
For your baby…
Looking beyond the scientific side of the benefits of breastmilk (which you can explore in our Breastfeeding 101 blog here), newborn babies thrive from skin-to-skin contact. It helps them to regulate body temperature, promotes bonding, reduces their stress levels - and yours! - and can actually promote better sleep.
For your partner…
You might be reading this and thinking “but I don’t or can’t breastfeed, what about me?” Let’s revisit that last section on the benefits for your baby - yes, we’re talking bonding! The close and loving relationship that can develop through breastfeeding but also all and any skin-to-skin contact provides a foundation for healthy attachment and social development as your baby grows. Make sure you’re involved in a range of caring activities outside of feeding, including changing and bathing, to strengthen your bond (and give your partner a break!).
Remember, breastfeeding can be a tiring process and takes a lot of strength. To support your partner on their journey and to help strengthen your own bond, be positive about approaches to feeding and do some of the reading so they don’t have to; listen to their needs around feeding; take on bottle feedings of expressed milk when possible; and accept your partner’s decision on starting and stopping breastfeeding.
Remember, you’re in this together and with your support breastfeeding can quickly become just another part of family life.
While we’re on the subject, here are some of our top tips on maximising your skin-to-skin and feeding time together:
Encourage your little one to copy the movements you make with your face, like when you open and close your mouth or eyes, and do the same for them to build strong connections
Notice when your baby might need a break or less stimulation and follow their cues
Say or sing your favourite nursery rhymes or songs while stroking your baby’s feet and hands
Have a safe, cozy and quiet space you can be together so your focus is just on each other
Use a variety of tones when speaking and singing
Communicate your needs to your partner or other caregiver, and explain when you might want additional space or support.
Looking for a simple way to stay on top of your feeding routine? Try Onoco - we have a range of tools available so you can see exactly how much your little one has fed and when, and if anything is amiss. You can also easily share information with your partner or other caregivers, so they can be on the same page for your baby's health and your own mental load.