Skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo care, is a practice where a newborn baby is placed on the bare chest of the parent, typically the mother or father, immediately after birth or during postnatal care. This practice has numerous benefits for both the baby and the parent. Some of the benefits of skin to skin contact babies include:
Regulation of Body Temperature
Newborns have limited ability to regulate their body temperature. Skin-to-skin contact helps to stabilize their body temperature by utilizing the parent’s body warmth as a source of warmth for the baby. This can help prevent hypothermia or overheating in newborns.
It promotes bonding and attachment between the parent and the baby. Close physical contact, combined with the release of hormones such as oxytocin. Oxytocin can help foster a strong emotional bond between the parent and the baby, which is crucial for healthy emotional development.
Enhanced Breastfeeding Success
Skin-to-skin contact has been shown to improve breastfeeding success. The close proximity of the baby to the mother’s breast encourages the baby’s natural instincts to latch and breastfeed. This leads to better breastfeeding initiation, increased milk production, and improved breastfeeding duration.
Reduced Stress and Crying
The skin-to-skin contact has been shown to decrease stress levels in newborns. It helps regulate their heart rate, breathing, and cortisol levels. This can lead to less crying and more contentment in the baby, allowing them to feel more secure and calm.
Enhanced Immune Function
It’s proven that skin-to-skin contact has been associated with improved immune function in newborns. The mother’s skin contains beneficial bacteria that can colonize the baby’s skin. Thus, helping to strengthen its immune system and protect against harmful pathogens.
Stabilizes Heart Rate and Breathing
Again, skin-to-skin contact has been shown to stabilize a baby’s heart rate and breathing patterns. The closeness to the parent’s body helps regulate these physiological functions, creating a more stable and healthier state for the baby.
Supports Weight Gain
It has been proven that skin-to-skin care has been associated with improved weight gain in premature babies. Close contact and increased breastfeeding frequency can enhance the baby’s nutritional intake. This leads to better growth and development.
Decreased Crying and Increased Soothing
Skin-to-skin contact has a soothing effect on babies, reducing crying and fussiness. The touch, warmth, and familiarity of the caregiver’s skin provides comfort and reassurance. Therefor, helping to calm the baby.
Regulation of Blood Sugar Levels
Besides, skin-to-skin contact has been found to stabilize a baby’s blood sugar levels, especially for infants at risk of hypoglycemia. The proximity to the caregiver’s body helps regulate glucose metabolism and maintain stable blood sugar levels.
Reduced Stress and Pain Response
In addition, skin-to-skin contact has a soothing and calming effect on babies, reducing their stress levels and helping to alleviate pain. It can be particularly beneficial during medical procedures or when a baby is experiencing discomfort.
Supports Neurological Development
As a matter of fact, skin-to-skin contact has been associated with improved brain development and cognitive outcomes in babies. The sensory stimulation provided by the parent’s touch, heartbeat, and voice helps stimulate the baby’s senses and promotes healthy brain connections.
Babies who experience skin-to-skin contact often have better sleep patterns, with longer periods of deep sleep and more regular sleep-wake cycles. This can help improve the baby’s overall sleep quality and promote healthy sleep habits.
Positive Impact on Brain Development
Lastly, skin-to-skin contact has been linked to improved brain development in newborns. Close physical contact and emotional bonding during skin-to-skin care can stimulate the release of hormones. These hormones promote brain development, leading to positive cognitive outcomes
In addition to these benefits, skin-to-skin contact is also a wonderful opportunity for parents to bond with their newborns, gain confidence in caregiving, and feel a strong sense of closeness and connection. It is a natural and nurturing way to care for a newborn and has many positive effects on both the baby and the parent.