“Skin to skin. Our mana. Blessed and proud to bring another strong girl into this world.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson recently became father to another Disney Princess — er, daughter — and the photo of him cradling teeny tiny Tiana just after she was born is honestly almost too much to handle.
“Skin to skin. Our mana,” he wrote in the caption. “Blessed and proud to bring another strong girl into this world. Tiana Gia Johnson came into this world like a force of nature and Mama @laurenhashianofficial labored and delivered like a true rockstar. I was raised and surrounded by strong, loving women all my life, but after participating in baby Tia’s delivery, it’s hard to express the new level of love, respect and admiration I have for @laurenhashianofficial and all mamas and women out there.”
Burst ovaries aside, the photo sheds an important light on something that doesn’t always happen after birth: skin-to-skin contact between fathers and babies.
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Skin-to-skin is when a baby is placed belly down on a parent’s chest right after being born (and dried off).
Not only does this enhance the bond between baby and parent, it can promote breast-feeding and also has health benefits for babies, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Having skin-to-skin contact comforts newborns, and also may enhance brain development.
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Despite all this, skin-to-skin happens more often with the baby and the person who delivered it, which is why The Rock’s photo was so powerful — not to mention a great idea for all new parents, regardless of whether they gave birth.
“Dads absolutely should do skin-to-skin for all of the reasons that we just discussed. Skin-to-skin strengthens baby’s immune system, helps to calm baby, and stimulate better sleep and create stronger bonds,” Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, an OB-GYN and medical travel blogger for TwinDoctorsTV, told Romper.
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Oh, and one other major benefit? Skin-to-skin can also improve sleep.
This kind of contact is effective at “stimulating deeper, longer sleep — something any new parent knows is a huge benefit,” Abdur-Rahman said.
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“For the partner, it’s equally great and helps form an early bond,” Taraneh Shirazian, M.D., an ob/gyn with NYU Langone Health, told Self.
As great as skin-to-skin is, it's not always an option for new parents. Birth complications and C-sections can prevent it from happening, but Abdur-Rahman told Romper that new parents shouldn't be upset if that's the case. “While skin-to-skin contact has some obvious benefits, babies have survived for centuries without formal skin-to-skin bonding.”
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But if you can do skin-to-skin, then make like The Rock and get both partners involved in it.