- After a difficult pregnancy, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and pro football player Andrew East welcomed their daughter, Drew Hazel East, three weeks ago.
- Shawn recently shared an intimate video of Andrew’s first skin-to-skin moments with their newborn.
- Research shows that a baby’s earliest experiences of being touched shape important brain functions.
It’s been three weeks since former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and pro football player Andrew East welcomed their daughter, Drew Hazel East, into their family. While reminiscing on how quickly that time has flown by, Shawn shared a sweet, intimate video of Andrew’s first skin-to-skin moments with their daughter. After enduring multiple health-related scares during her pregnancy, it was an incredibly special time.
“One of my all time favorite videos… right after @drewhazeleast was born,” she captioned the post. “She loves her daddy so much.” In the video, Andrew lays shirtless on their hospital room’s pullout couch with Drew sleeping on his chest. “Her skin is so soft,” he says, rubbing her tiny back. “You’re a great daddy, baby,” Shawn mutters from behind the camera.
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One of my all time favorite videos… right after @drewhazeleast was born. She loves her daddy so much. @andrewdeast
A post shared by Shawn Johnson East (@shawnjohnson) on Dec 1, 2019 at 1:06pm PST
Andrew is confident in his first day of parenting. “Day one? I’ll take the dub on this one,” he says, giving her a thumbs up. “We love you Drew,” Shawn says. “We love you, girl,” Andrew echoes.
Naturally, commenters melted with adoration of the genuine father-daughter bonding experience. “So peaceful 💛💛,” one person commented. “Skin on skin had to be my favorite bonding with my daughter and husband,” another wrote. “He’s blissed out,” another added.
Skin-to-skin contact after birth (also known as kangaroo care)—in which a diaper-clad baby lays on a parent’s chest with a blanket draped over its back—helps to stabilize heart and respiratory rates, improves oxygen saturation rates, regulates infant body temperature, and even conserves a baby’s calories, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
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A 2017 study published in Current Biology also found that a baby’s earliest experiences of being touched shape brain functions linked to cognitive, perceptual, and social development. The researchers concluded that comforting physical contact is instrumental to overall neurodevelopment. Another 2015 study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics also found that regular skin-to-skin contact reduces maternal anxiety and stress.
Baby Drew, named after her dad, was born on Oct. 29 after 22 hours of labor that ended in a C-section. “You are our everything,” Shawn wrote on Instagram, announcing her arrival. “Welcome to the world baby girl.”
So far, the new parents have survived their first holiday with a newborn—Thanksgiving, during which Shawn felt overwhelmed with gratitude. “Happy Thanksgiving! I can’t even begin to express how grateful and thankful I am this year,” she wrote on Instagram. “Please excuse me while my hormonal self goes and cries happy tears for the next hour.”
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Happy Thanksgiving! I can’t even begin to express how grateful and thankful I am this year. Please excuse me while my hormonal self goes and cries happy tears for the next hour. #happythanksgivng
A post shared by Shawn Johnson East (@shawnjohnson) on Nov 28, 2019 at 7:51am PST
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Kayla Blanton is a freelance writer who reports on all things health and nutrition for Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and Prevention.