The Importance of Skin-to-Skin
The first moment you see your baby and they lay him on your chest is your first, and most important, physical connection. Kangaroo, or more commonly known as skin-to-skin, is a method of contact between a newborn and a parent. This type of contact, naked or diapered and pressed against a parent’s chest, is the closest environment the baby can get to being back in the womb. There are a variety of benefits that surround the concept of skin-to-skin contact.
- Enhances bonding – Skin-to-skin can help mothers learn their baby’s signals, which improves communication and confidence. Knowing your baby’s signs of hunger, fullness or discomfort will help develop a sense of trust and security.
- Regulates breathing and body temperature – This is especially true in premature infants. The warmth of the mother, or father’s, body helps regulate the baby’s temperature. A baby’s heart rate will also start to synchronize with the heart rate of the parent, which helps control breathing.
- Reduction in post-partum depression – Although there are many factors that attribute to post-partum depression, skin-to-skin immediately after birth can help stimulate intricate hormonal patterns which reinforce maternal behaviors and feelings.
- Increases milk supply – Studies have shown that shortly after an infant is born, it is capable of finding its mother’s breast and can begin feeding immediately. Skin-to-skin contact will promote the production of milk, as well as help non-latching babies.
- Promotes optimal brain development – An infant’s brain is not fully developed yet. Research has shown that skin-to-skin contact can activate the amygdala, which is located deep in the brain and involves emotional learning and memory modulation. Via the prefrontal-orbital pathway, the amygdala contributes to the development of this vital brain structure.
At BayCare, we encourage immediate bonding with your newborn. This intimate contact can help your baby breathe easier, normalize baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels, and support brain development. Learn more about skin-to-skin contact and other BayCare maternity services by visiting BayCareMaternity.org.