There is a lot of information floating around about and promotion of the benefits of skin to skin for newborns. Medics focus on the first hour of life for this skin to skin contact to happen, and while this hour is extremely important, it is not a magic fix where, once you have completed your one hour of skin to skin contact, the baby has received its necessary amount for the rest of its life. Kangaroo Care is a much better approach to take in the first weeks and months of a baby’s life. So, what are the benefits of skin to skin contact?
In that initial hour after birth it obviously helps with bonding between mother and baby as well as being important for colonising the baby’s skin with friendly bacteria from the other for its protection
The baby cries less
It helps baby’s temperature to regulate
It helps the baby to regulate its heart and breathing rates
Babies who receive skin to skin contact have elevated blood sugar levels
It helps to establish a healthy and frequent breast feeding pattern
It increases milk supply in the mother
In preemies Kangaroo Care provides all the above plus it has been noted that preemies receiving this care from their mothers need less oxygen and their health improves much quicker.
But, skin to skin contact is also important even when the child is older. As the child grows and starts discovering the world around them, Kangaroo Care provides the infact with the physical and emotional safety they need to interact with their environment at their own pace.
In my own experience skin to skin contact is just as important for my daughter now at 11 months as it was when she was first born. When she’s teething, skin to skin helps comfort her, and calms her breathing and heart rate allowing her to sleep through the pain. On nights like last night, when she is ill with a really bad chesty cough and raised temperature, skin to skin, again, helps to regulate her temperature, slow her breathing and calm her down so she can rest enough to fight off the infection in her body. And it also blessed us parents with a quieter, less disturbed night’s sleep.
No matter how old your baby is, it’s never too late to tap into the wonderful benefits of skin to skin contact. The powers of human touch is simply amazing.