Skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo care, places newborns close to their parents almost immediately after birth. Once the baby is delivered, he or she is diapered and placed on your bare chest, either under your clothing or under a blanket. Though parents spend nine months creating emotional bonds with the developing baby, the hours after birth are incredibly vital to many facets of life, including:
- Development. Studies show parental confidence rises when mothers are given a chance to provide skin-to-skin contact with their babies. Especially for new moms, these moments encourage a healthy progression of their nurturing roles. Babies emotionally feed off this connection, but their bodies also physically depend on it for better overall functioning. It also helps boost brain function and regular eating habits for newborns. After skin-to-skin contact, babies are more likely to latch better and take to breastfeeding better, resulting in healthier weight gain. Eating habits begin to form during this initial time frame, helping to solidify later feeding times.
- Stability. Newborns need warmth, and skin-to-skin contact provides that in soothing ways. Physical contact goes further than just temperature control: babies respond by crying less, sleeping better and staying more peaceful. Kangaroo care stabilizes bodily functions, like blood pressure and blood sugar.
- Connection. While out of the womb, newborns are exposed to many germs. Skin time can help build up friendly bacterial support and provide more opportunities to shield babies from unnecessary bacteria. Fathers can provide many aspects of kangaroo care and are encouraged to share in this time. Milk from breastfeeding is another way to support newborns and give them healthy nutrients, linking them to necessary vitamins and minerals. Plus, added time spent in the first round of breastfeeding helps nursing become more natural as babies and mothers tune into the process.