Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade just had a baby — here's why she captioned the picture #skintoskin

It’s been a long journey to motherhood for Gabrielle Union — including a diagnosis of adenomyosis and multiple failed in-vitro attempts. But in an Instagram post Thursday afternoon, the 46-year-old shared the joyful news that she and husband Dwyane Wade, a basketball player with the Miami Heat, have welcome a brand-new baby girl via surrogate.

Gabrielle Union and husband Dwyane Wade welcomed a baby girl by surrogate Wednesday, calling it a “lovely day.” (Instagram: GabUnion)
Gabrielle Union and husband Dwyane Wade welcomed a baby girl by surrogate Wednesday, calling it a “lovely day.” (Instagram: GabUnion)

“A LOVELY DAY,” Union wrote. “We are sleepless and delirious but so excited to share that our miracle baby arrived last night via surrogate… Welcome to the party sweet girl!” The new mom tagged her husband in the post and added an interesting hashtag: #skintoskin

In a picture from the post, Union can be seen holding the new baby to her chest, seemingly to mimic the skin-to-skin contact that usually follows a birth. Although performing the skin-to-skin ritual with a baby delivered via surrogate may seem unusual, studies show that it actually has a number of benefits.

According to the Atlantic, the recent skin-to-skin trend contact dates back to the late 1970s when a Colombian pediatrician named Edgar Rey stumbled upon a paper about how the babies of kangaroos received “thermal regulation” by spending their early lives in their mother’s pouch. Rey was on the hunt for a solution to the severe overcrowding in his hospital, which left three premature babies sharing a single incubator. Inspired by the kangaroos, Rey began instructing new mothers to cradle their preterm babies on their bare chest instead, a way to both keep them warm and encourage them to feed.

The results, as captured in a piece in Parents, were astounding: “What the doctors found was that this skin-to-skin contact not only allowed mothers to leave the hospitals (which decreased overcrowding) but it also decreased their babies’ dependency on incubators. And the most astounding? The doctors watched as mortality rates plunged from 70 percent to 30 percent.”

Since then, Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) — as it came to be known — has spread worldwide and is the gold standard for both preemies and full-term infants. In the U.S., the practice is known as skin-to-skin contact and is encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “This practice has numerous health benefits for both the mother and newborn, including helping initiate breastfeeding, stabilizing glucose levels, and maintaining infant body temperature,” according to the CDC. “Therefore, skin-to-skin care is encouraged immediately after delivery for medically stable mothers and newborns.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which refers to it as skin-to-skin care (SSC), goes even deeper on the benefits. “SSC also helps stabilize blood glucose concentrations, decreases crying, and provides cardiorespiratory stability, especially in late preterm newborns,” AAP writes. “SSC has been shown in numerous studies as a method to decrease pain in newborns being held by mothers and fathers.”

Although the AAP does not specifically mention performing skin-to-skin contact in Union’s case, multiple surrogacy guides online suggest that it’s an important way for the infant and its parents to bond. Kris Probasco, a clinical social worker who specializes in surrogacy, tells that it’s a crucial moment. “When a baby is born via surrogacy, an emotional transfer needs to take place from the surrogate family to the intended parents,” says Probasco. “This emotional transfer allows the baby to begin bonding with his or her parents and vice versa.”

Judging by the pictures Union posted, it seems like the bonding has already begun.

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