Earthing is simply the act of connecting your bare skin to the energy of the Earth. While some consider it an “out there” concept, continuing research is revealing a variety of benefits to this ancient practice. Many of these benefits are especially useful for new parents and babies, as they’re navigating intense transformation that can lead to stress, inflammation, impaired sleep, digestive issues, and sometimes, a sense of unease, especially in mothers navigating postpartum baby blues or depression.
Before we get into why you might want to try earthing, let’s cover how to do it. The simplest method consists of taking off your shoes and walking, or sitting, on the earth for at least 30 to 40 minutes. Not concrete or asphalt, but the Earth. Walk or rest on dirt, sand, grass, rocks, or any other Earth-made ground covering. Same goes for baby. Take them to a safe space outside and let them lie or crawl around on the ground. If you don’t feel comfortable placing your baby on the Earth, they can receive benefits by having skin-to-skin contact with you as you’re earthing.
It’s also believed that wearing leather-soled shoes (think moccasins), provide the same benefits as being barefoot. There are many brands that sell “earthing footwear” for adults, children, and babies. You can also purchase earthing mats that allow you to receive the following benefits while inside.
Here’s why earthing is worth our attention.
Could soothe a colicky baby.
Earthing can be especially beneficial for babies with colic, as the condition is often caused by inflammation in the digestive tract – inflammation that earthing can reduce.
Because the electrons from earthing support the cells of the immune system and mitochondria (the part of a cell that takes in nutrients and turns it into energy), it’s been found to increase a person’s energy levels.1 And what parent doesn’t want more energy?
Earthing has been found to shift the body from existing in the sympathetic sphere of the autonomic nervous system (where our fight or flight response lives) to the parasympathetic sphere, where we breathe deeply, our organs function normally, and we feel calm.4 This is all crucial for new parents and babies, as they can experience intense stress when trying to acclimate to their new circumstances.
Many report that connecting their feet to the earth fills them with a sense of emotional and physical stability. Research has also suggested that a major contributor to modern society’s physiological dysfunctions and rampant sense of unwellness is our chronic disconnection to the Earth.4 Earthing is one of the simplest ways to solve this problem.
Studies have shown that sleeping on a grounding mat improves sleep by normalizing levels of cortisol (stress hormone), and reducing pain.1 Earthing also supports sleep by synchronizing our circadian rhythm with the day and night cycle.4 In addition, people who sleep on a grounding mat report falling asleep more quickly, waking up fewer times throughout the night, feeling more refreshed in the morning, and having more energy throughout the day.4 As new parents have such limited time to sleep, it’s ideal to make the sleep they do get as restorative as possible.
Reduces pain and chronic inflammation.
Research has shown that inflammation begins to subside within 30 minutes of earthing, which also minimizes the pain caused by inflammation.1
Can support the immune system.
The abundance of electrons provided to the body through earthing can combat oxidative stress (an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body) and foster a healthier immune system.2 A study in Journal of Environmental and Public Health also states that earthing can “create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems.”4
Enhances wound repair.
According to a study published in the Journal of Inflammation Research, earthing reduces, or can even prevent, the redness, heat, swelling, and loss of function that often follows an injury.3 The researchers believe that connecting the body to the Earth allows free electrons from the surface of the Earth to spread through the body, where they can have antioxidant effects.3
Helps treat autoimmune diseases.
As earthing has been found to improve the immune system and minimize the pain caused by inflammation, it’s been observed to support those with lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders.1 This is especially important for new mothers, as pregnancy can increase your chance of developing an autoimmune disease.2
Because the antioxidant electrons provided to the body through earthing can reach tissue compromised by reactive oxidants - which can damage DNA, RNA, and proteins, and may cause cell death - it’s believed they might have anti-aging effects.3 In addition, earthing’s ability to minimize chronic inflammation has led to findings that imply it can limit the effects of diseases of aging, such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.1
As I wrote this, I remembered that whenever my son was crying as an infant I would take him outside and he would almost immediately be soothed – I was always barefoot. So if you and baby are in need of enhanced TLC, take off your shoes and have an adventure in your backyard or local park. Next time you’re feeling like you just don’t know what to do, try getting outside and connecting to the energies of the Earth, you just might find it’s just what you (and baby) need!
1Chevalier G, Sinatra ST, Oschman JL, Sokal K, Sokal P. Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth's surface electrons. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:291541. doi:10.1155/2012/291541
2O'Donoghue K. Pregnancy and the risk of autoimmune disease: An exploration. Chimerism. 2011;2(3):84–85. doi:10.4161/chim.2.3.17771
3Oschman JL, Chevalier G, Brown R. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. J Inflamm Res. 2015;8:83–96. Published 2015 Mar 24. doi:10.2147/JIR.S69656
4Srinivasan TM. Electrons in Biology. Int J Yoga. 2017;10(3):113–114. doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_33_17