Skin-To-Skin Contact After Birth Helps More Than Just Newborn Babies

Skin-to-skin good for newborn and mom.

We already know that skin-to-skin contact after birth significantly benefits newborn babies, thanks to a significant body of scientific evidence. The International Breastfeeding Centre says that contact after birth and during infancy helps newborn babies learn to latch well for breastfeeding, maintain normal body temperature even better than while in an incubator, maintain heart rate, maintain respiratory rate, and exhibit normal blood pressure and better blood sugar levels. Babies who experience skin-to-skin contact through a practice known as Kangaroo Care are less likely to cry, less likely to develop infection, and more likely to breastfeed exclusively.

“Infancy sets up your interactions with your baby for the rest of her life,” Dr. Susan M. Ludington, executive director of the United States Institute for Kangaroo Care, stated explaining that skin-to-skin contact is the easiest way to form a secure attachment with a newborn baby. But as it turns out, it’s not just the newborn baby that benefits from skin-to-skin contact after birth.

New research to be presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition indicates that moms also significantly benefit from skin-to-skin cuddling. In addition to lowering stress levels of newborns, skin-to-skin contact reduces the stress level of the mother, the researchers say. Neonatologist Dr. Natalia Isaza of the Children’s National Health System says that a study of kangaroo-style bonding at a large metropolitan NICU “found that all of the mothers reported an objective decrease in their stress level after skin-to-skin contact with their babies.” Reportedly, maternal stress from being separated from their infants could be decreased more significantly with skin-to-skin contact than by just being reunited with their babies. Skin-to-skin contact also improved the overall experience in the NICU, Dr. Isaza’s team found, according to a press release.

“We already know there are physiological benefits in the newborns when they are held skin-to-skin,” says Dr. Isaza. “Now we have more evidence that skin-to-skin contact can also decrease parental stress that can interfere with bonding, health and emotional wellness, and the interpersonal relations of parents, as well as breastfeeding rates.”

She called skin-to-skin cuddling during infancy a “simple technique to benefit both parent and child that perhaps should be encouraged in all NICUs.”

Medical News Today reported that it is quickly becoming the prevailing belief that babies should be placed skin-to-skin with their mothers, even directly following a Cesarean section.

“Hospital protocols can be modified to support uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth for both vaginal and cesarean births. The first hour of life outside the womb is a special time when a baby meets his or her parents for the first time and a family is formed. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and should not be interrupted unless the baby or mother is unstable and requires medical resuscitation. It is a ‘sacred’ time that should be honored, cherished and protected whenever possible,” Raylene Phillips MD, IBCLC, FAAP explained in a Medscape article.

Hospitals are even giving skin-to-skin contact precedence over the typical post-birth routines, such as weighing the baby, that used to be done before a mother could even hold her newborn, Medical News Today reported. Inquisitr reported earlier that it’s even good to encourage skin-to-skin contact right after birth before the umbilical cord is even cut and that it helps with placental release and reduces risks of postpartum hemorrhage and depression among mothers.

Have you ever experienced kangaroo care or have you ever been encouraged to implement skin-to-skin contact into your neonatal care routine?

[Image via Pixabay]