Paper Example on Psychological Benefits of Touch Bond after Birth

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  946 Words
Date:  2022-09-28


The human touch is an important behavior that is used to express affection, security, trust, and creation of social bonds (Isaza, 2015). From the time when a mother holds her baby after birth, a long process of bonding involving touch and closeness with the infant begins. While such bonding is considered natural and an expected behavior in humans, it also serves other important roles for the health of both the mother and the newborn (Feldman, Rosenthal, & Eidelman, 2014). The presence or lack of touch may have long-term consequences on the baby. Through human touch, babies and mother have psychological benefits that play a role in their short and long-term well-being.

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Benefits of Touch Bond on Hormonal Development

The bonding between a mother and a newborn occurs on a chemical level. In this process, the human interactions between a mother and newborn, as well as between newborns with other humans play an important in the development of the hormonal control systems (Brauer, Xiao, Poulain, Friederici, & Schirmer, 2016). Furthermore, Feldman (2017) notes that such hormonal changes facilitate a permanent organization of the brain's parts or synapses. Since the hormone oxytocin is considered as the bonding hormone, it is essential for early human experiences, especially after childbirth, to maximize its creation, for better bonding experiences and outcomes for the mother as well as the baby. (Reece, Ebstein, Cheng, Ng, & Schirmer, 2016) With a well-formed brain, a person is better placed to form long-term social relations, which have a strong influence on their psychological well-being and stability.

Impact of Touch Bond on Stress

The period immediately after both of a child is very critical and may have long-term consequences on the development of the newborn. The touch experience is linked to the better development of the brain in the areas that handle stress in a person. A study at the John Hopkins University found that there was "failure to thrive" in children who lacked close human interaction from birth (Feldman, 2017). In a study by Diamond (1988, as cited by Brauer et al., 2016) on rats, it was found that lack of touch led to less brain development as such experiences led to high stress, which limited the development of brain's synapses in the experimental rats. Extrapolating such results humans shows that the lack of human touch leads to poor brain development, and later on, in life, a person becomes easily irritable, aggressive, and unable to easily manage stress to the detriment of their psychological well-being (Brauer et al., 2016). Consequently, with touch, there is a higher likelihood for better control of emotions and thus better psychological and social outcomes for persons.

Impact of Touch Bond on the Mother

One of the key considerations on the role of touch is whether it has any benefit on the mother. As reported by Reece et al. (2016), a major factor of maternal stress and emotional distress after birth is the lack of adequate touching and interactions with the baby. As previously noted, touch is a major facilitator of the hormone oxytocin, and as such, lack of adequate touch between the mother and her child means that the hormone may not be produced adequately, and this leads to increased stress. The outcome of a stress mother is dire on the child as shown by Reece et al. (2016) who argued that children from depressed mothers are more likely to experience inhibited brain development, which affects their emotional wellbeing in the long-term, especially if the mothers do not overcome their depressed status in the first three years of a child's life.

The Impact of Touch Born on Preterm Babies

Preterm babies are highly vulnerable and require round the clock care from both the parents and physicians. However, in recognition of the importance of touch, the Kangaroo Care (KC), which involves holding a baby by a caregiver, that is, mother or father, or any other person, continues to gain popularity across the world (Brauer et al., 2016). In this form of care, a caregiver holds the preterm baby skin-to-skin. A study by Feldman et al. (2014), has found that preterm babies receiving Kangaroo care have better brain development outcomes than those who do not receive such care. Furthermore, it enhances sleep patterns, which are essential for the development of the brain and its function for better stress reactivity, and emotional balance.


Touch is a major human interaction behavior which facilitates the creating of trust, showing affection, and so on. The use of touch is important for the mother and child interaction after birth as it plays different psychological roles in both the mother and the child. One of the functions revealed is the importance of touch in the secretion of the hormone, oxytocin, which is essential for "feeling" good and facilitating bonding between people. Furthermore, touch allows better brain development, which is essential for better stress, anger, and anxiety control in individuals. Indeed, the benefit of touch is evident in preterm babies whereby the use of Kangaroo Care has been found to lead to better psychological outcomes for babies.


Brauer, J., Xiao, Y., Poulain, T., Friederici, A. D., & Schirmer, A. (2016). Frequency of maternal touch predicts resting activity and connectivity of the developing social brain. Cerebral Cortex, 26(8), 3544-3552.

Feldman, R. (2017). The neurobiology of human attachments. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 21(2), 80-99.

Feldman, R., Rosenthal, Z., & Eidelman, A. I. (2014). Maternal-preterm skin-to-skin contact enhances child physiologic organization and cognitive control across the first 10 years of life. Biological Psychiatry, 75(1), 56-64.

Isaza, N. (2015, October). Parental Stress before and after Skin-to-Skin Contact in the NICU. In 2015 AAP National Conference and Exhibition. American Academy of Pediatrics.

Reece, C., Ebstein, R., Cheng, X., Ng, T., & Schirmer, A. (2016). Maternal touch predicts social orienting in young children. Cognitive Development, 39, 128-140.

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