A Dad’s journey through first hugs

Dad and newborn twins

This post was created in partnership with Huggies.

I’m a huge believer in skin-to-skin hugs and all the amazing benefits it offers both babies and moms. I talked about providing skin-to-skin hugs to my twins after my C-Section and how it regulated my babies’ temperatures and instantly helped create a special bond.

While there has been a lot of research on the benefits of moms providing skin-to-skin hugs to their babies, many experts have been specifically exploring the impact of father-infant skin-to-skin contact. Some benefits of skin-to-skin time between fathers and babies, include:
– Temperature control
– Better infant behavioural responses
– Improved bio-psychological markers
– Better interaction behaviour of fathers with their infants
– Reduced stress and anxiety experienced by fathers

My husband, Mike, has played a hug role in providing skin-to-skin hugs to our babies and all different kinds of hugs as our children have grown. In honour of Father’s Day, I wanted to celebrate the incredible dad he is by inviting him here to share his thoughts on fatherhood and what his first hugs with our four kids meant to him.

I think all new parents can vouch for this; being a first-time parent is both an exciting and exhausting time. Between both extremes there’s always a gracious period if only for a minute, or in my case, 10 hours straight where not a single tired thought crossed my mind.

new dad

It was my first time holding our first newborn, Holden. When he was born, he scared us a bit. We were first time parents, and no one prepared us for all of the little coughs and gags Holden would have after being born so fast and still having a little amniotic fluid in his lungs.

So, as a new Dad, I made the decision to stay up with him… all night. I just held him close to me and stared. That first night being a Dad changed me. It was the first time that I had done something so selfless without a second thought.

dad kissing infant

Now of course that all-nighter hug wasn’t sustainable, and eventually, after witnessing Joanna and I unravel from sleep deprivation, my mother-in-law had to had a mini intervention.

I have strong memories holding each of our babies. My favourite place in the world was always reclined on our couch, with a baby on my chest. Perfection.

dad and daughter

After Joanna gave birth to our twins, I felt a little helpless. Her body had been through so much, and I just wanted to take the pain away. One thing I could do was hold our babies while Joanna slept. Not a bad gig.

After doing skin-to-skin time, we would swaddle them up, one baby in each arm, and I would hold them close, enjoying the attention we were attracting from the hospital staff and visitors, as I watched Joanna sleep.

dad and newborn twins

Today, before being tucked into bed, after reading books, our twins ask for their “huggies,” as they adorably named hugs. I gladly oblige, as I pull them close.

These “huggies” have a ripple effect in our home. It affects moods, behaviour, sleep and communication. It is pretty amazing that such a simple act can bring up such emotion, and have such an impact on so many lives.
For any expecting and new parents, we wanted to share optimal skin-to-skin hugging techniques ensuring both you and your babies receive all the physiological and emotional benefits they provide. Huggies has also created a Hug Plan for parents to help them prepare for skin-to-skin time immediately after birth. Click here to learn more.
1. Skin-to-skin: Parent should remove all clothing from the upper body, baby should be in a diaper only.
2. Proper positioning: Parent can lie down or sit up with baby chest to chest and tuck baby’s legs up into the fetal position. Baby’s head should be turned to one side, so airway is clear and head is supported. Baby’s hands should be near her face for self-soothing.
3. Cover up: Baby and parent should be covered with a blanket once in the proper position.
4. Duration: It is important for your baby to go through a full sleep-wake cycle which is usually about 60 minutes as a minimum to get the full benefits and to get the biological systems stabilized.
5. Listen to baby: If baby starts to wiggle around and is no longer comfortable, that’s a good time to stop.

NOTE: Baby is safest sleeping on their back, not on a parent’s chest and do not drink hot liquids or cook while hugging baby.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Huggies. While compensation was provided, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of Huggies.

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