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Posted on 04-20-2017

By now, most mothers have heard how important “skin to skin” is for infants. But why is it so important for a baby to have skin contact with their mother, and father? Before we get into the benefits, how about quick little history lesson. Columbian neonatologists Edgar Rey and Hector Marinez tested skin-to-skin back in 1979 when they did not have enough incubators for the premature babies at the hospital. As a solution they decided to keep the baby warm by wrapping them up together with their mothers. The doctors noticed the babies thriving from simply being on their mother's chest and named their technique “Kangaroo Mother Method”.

So why were the doctors finding such success in their new method? Physician Nils Bergman 

says nature takes over in this method. “It stimulates a specific part of the newborn brain, so that two things happen. The baby will move to the breast, self-attach and feed; and secondly, the baby will open his eyes and gaze at his mother.” These two responses promote development not only physically, but also emotionally and socially.

Skin-to-skin contact is not only a magically experience for the babies, but most mother's will also tell you a special bond is created when skin-to-skin is implemented into daily routines. We encourage all mother's to make skin-to-skin a priority during early development. Here are a few more benefits of skin-to-skin contact:

* stabilizes premature babies more quickly and reliably than being in an incubator

* maintains the baby’s temperature better than an incubator (One study of twins made one too warm and the other too cold, and then placed both on the mother’s chest at the same time. The result: The too-cold baby warmed up while the other simultaneously cooled. Dads can’t do quite as well, but they will warm a baby who is too chilly.)

* stabilizes a premature baby’s heart rate and breathing

* helps prevent babies’ blood sugar from dropping too low

* relieves pain when babies need to have blood tests or other procedures done

* helps premature babies gain weight better

* encourages increased milk production in breastfeeding mothers

* helps non-latching babies or those with a range of breastfeeding problems breastfeed more effectively

* reduces the amount babies cry

* promotes stronger bonds between mothers and babies — and probably fathers too, but the research has been done on mothers (In one study, fewer babies were later abused or abandoned if they’d been cared for skin to skin in hospital.)

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