The Benefits of Kangaroo Care/ Skin-to-Skin Contact for Newborns
There is a lasting effect of the relationship between a newborn baby and its mother. All other relationships will grow from this bond that starts forming at birth. The lifelong pattern for relating is set from the early mother/child connection that kangaroo care provides.
The child’s behavior in the future is programmed by the first moments following birth. There are hormones released in the mother’s body that create a strong bond between the two if they are left virtually uninterrupted from the contact during this time.
What is Kangaroo Care Skin-to-Skin Contact?
Immediately following birth the baby is placed on the mother’s bare chest either naked or wearing only a cap and diaper for warmth.
The baby will need the warmth, security and comfort that can only be provided by being close to their mother during the first few hours after birth. Experts agree that birth can be a stressful event for babies.
The sound of the mothers breathing and heartbeat is what the baby is familiar with. A sense of continuity between the new world that the baby is attempting to adjust to is being created. Babies begin to learn they can trust their mothers to care for them and meet all their needs during the skin-to-skin contact.
Separation immediately following birth that involves the baby undergoing various routine procedures and being swaddled before ever being handed to their mothers is the routine procedure in most hospitals. There can be harmful effects from this disruption of the early interactions between the mother and the baby.
The baby can become distressed when it is separated from its mother because it knows instinctively that it is dependent on its mother for survival. In addition, the hormones that trigger the instincts of mothering are not released.
|Separated and sad.|
Photo courtesy of David Beyerlein Photography
● Respiratory distress is reduced
● Body temperature and heart rate are stabilized
● Nutrition is improved
● Immunity is improved
● Breastfeeding initiation
● Pain response is reduced
● Psychological and stress development
Benefits for Premature Babies
There are a number of benefits from skin-to-skin contact for premature babies. The regulation of body temperature, respiration and heart rate of the baby are increased with skin-to-skin contact.
When premature babies are put on their mother’s chest they have been found to sleep better and sounder, both development and growth are increased in a number of ways. Weight is gained more quickly by premature babies with the skin-to-skin contact and often times they can be discharged from the hospital sooner than if they had not had the ongoing contact.
Tammy Mahan is a seasoned medical and health writer. She frequently submits articles to Healthline.com on numerous topics.