What is kangaroo care?
Rosemary Fadool, D.O., is an obstetrician/gynecologist on staff at Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center. Her office can be reached at 623-544-1000. For more information on this topic, speak to your physician.
Question: I recently heard a mom talk about skin to skin contact. What is it and should I consider doing it as a new mom?
Answer: Skin to skin contact (also referred to as Kangaroo Care) is when the naked infant is placed in direct contact with mom’s skin after birth. The optimal scenario is to place the newborn on mom’s chest immediately following delivery. The infant may be taken to the warmer if any problems arise and more intensive evaluation or treatment needs to be performed. As soon as the baby is stable, skin to skin contact is initiated (or continued, depending on the case).
There are many benefits of skin to skin contact with newborns. The skin to skin contact improves and helps stabilize the infant’s respiratory and heart rate. The infant experiences less stress and therefore blood glucose levels are also improved. These infants also have a higher success rate of breastfeeding.
The new mom also benefits from early bonding. It stimulates milk production, which improves breastfeeding and stimulates oxytocin production. These, in turn, decrease uterine bleeding postpartum.
Skin to skin bonding is now being initiated during cesarean deliveries. These patients have often felt left out of the delivery process and distanced from their baby due to the circumstances of a cesarean delivery. Implementing skin to skin contact while still in the operating room closes this gap between mom and baby.
It is also offered to dad to participate in skin to skin with baby after cesarean while the surgery is being completed and mom is moved to recovery. Adoptive parents may also participate in skin to skin care to assist in bonding with their baby.
Studies have shown that during the first 48 hours, skin to skin contact should be as often as possible. In fact, skin to skin contact has been shown to increase the development of neurologic pathways. Skin to skin contact may be continued for months after delivery.