Babies are as connected to their mothers as they can be during pregnancy, receiving warmth, food, protection, and oxygen from their mother’s body.
Then labor begins, and things suddenly begin to change for your sweet baby.
It’s no shock to us that study after study has found a slew of advantages for babies who receive skin-to-skin care (also known as “kangaroo care”) from their mothers.
When babies are held naked against their mother’s skin, they are as near as they can get to being back in the womb’s warmth and safety. This is their happy place, it’s close to being back in their “home”.
Mothers and newborns should be in direct contact for at least the first 1–2 hours following birth, if at all possible.
In skin-to-skin care, the baby is placed on the mother’s bare chest, between the breasts (a dry cap or diaper is fine). Warmth should be provided by draping a blanket over both of them. If the mother is unable to provide skin-to-skin care due to problems during labor or delivery, the father can step in.
The benefits of skin-to-skin treatment will become apparent within minutes as both mother and baby relax. The baby’s temperature, respiration, and heart rate all return to normal.
If neither parent is able to hold baby after birth because of NICU stay or complications, then we suggest being near your baby once possible, speaking softy to your baby, placing your hand on them in the NICU incubator when able, and when they are ready to begin skin to skin.
Here are the ten most studied benefits of skin-to-skin care:
- 1. Improvement in heart and lung function.
- 2. Stabilization of body temperature.
- 3. Regulation of blood sugar.
- 4. Initiation of breastfeeding.
- 5. Transfer of good bacteria.
- 6. Reduction in crying.
- 7. Relief from pain.
- 8. Enhancement of mom-baby communication.
- 9. Easier transition from the womb.
- 10. Boost in maternal and paternal-child bonding.
The warmth of your body, the sound of your voice, the beat of your heart, and the smell of your skin will make your baby feel at home, at peace in your arms.