Skin-on-Skin care also known as kangaroo care, has been shown in a multitude of studies to have many benefits to mom and baby. Not only is skin-on-skin beneficial to full term newborns, it is also beneficial to premature babies as well. Even if mom has had a C-section there is no reason babe cannot stay with mom while she gets stitched up. Medical procedures such as weight, bath, vitamin K injections, and eye ointments can wait until mom and baby have had time to get to know each other. After birth babe should be dried off, put on mom’s chest, and left alone. No one should interfere or push baby in any way, no one should try to help babe to latch, mom and babe should be left alone to get to know each other and create lifelong bonding.
Studies have shown that babies left alone on mom’s chest for an hour typically self-latch, nurse better and for longer than other babies. It is also shown to reduce stress in infants. The benefits are two-fold, and numerous. Here I have only listed a few benefits, however, I will attach a list of resources with more information.
Benefits to full term Newborns
- Soothing, can hear moms heart beat
- Familiarity to mom’s smell
- Bacteria on mother, combined with breastfeeding, are known to reduce illness and allergens in baby.
- Cries less, is more calm and comforted, stress reducing.
- Secure bonding ( oxytocin and pheromones in amniotic fluid)
- Stabilized body temperature
- Newborn blood sugar is stabilized and more normal
- Breathing is regulated
- Heartbeat is regulated
- Encourages latching, if babe is left alone, babe will crawl up mom’s chest and find the breast on its own. While taking my course to become a doula, one of my instructors told me “the reason an umbilical cord is so short, is so that no one can take baby away. Have you ever noticed that the cord is just long enough to put baby onto moms chest, which incidentally is close enough for mom and baby to see each other.” This has stuck with me, I found it interesting, and a baby can only see as far from the mother’s chest to the mothers face. Nature’s way to ensure that babe sees mom after birth.
Premature infants not only benefit from the skin-on-skin listed above, they also have the added benefits of.
- Babies as small as 2lb 10oz benefit from skin-to-skin as long as they are healthy
- Metabolically more stable
- Blood sugars stabilize
- Breath better, if put immediately on moms chest. Can reduce the need for oxygen and can be as beneficial as an incubator.
The skin-on-skin care is beneficial from birth to beyond. The skin is the largest living/ independent organ of our body, and can be very sensitive to touch. Bonding not only takes place with mom, but fathers who are involved in kangaroo care report stronger more secure attachment to their infant/ baby. It’s soothing and relaxing in a nice warm secure location. I try to keep myself out of my articles, but I tell my mom’s that ask me about care that a baby has spent the last 40 weeks with you at all times, being nourished, cared for, kept warm and safe. After birth, why is it expected that they are swaddled and left alone? I also talk about the benefits of baby wearing. Look for my future article on baby wearing.