Skin-to-skin contact with your baby is a derivative of the Kangaroo method , a method of care devised by a Colombian medical team in the 1970s. First intended for low-weight babies in maternity wards, the kangaroo method s It was then extended to neonatology departments (for premature babies) as its benefits are numerous for both newborns and parents.
So, what are the benefits of skin-to-skin for babies ? What are the benefits of skin-to-skin for parents ? When and how to practice skin to skin ? We tell you everything in this article!
Skin to skin: the birth ritual
You have no doubt already seen it in films or in television shows, when the birth goes off without a hitch, both for the baby and for the mother, one of the first reflexes of the medical teams is to place the baby on the mother's belly . This gesture, so innocuous at first glance, is one of the best welcomes for the baby. Yes, let's remember, birth is a physical and mental ordeal for the future mother, but also for her baby!
The baby spends nine months warm in a dark and cocooning place to live in fusion with his mother. When it comes out of the womb, it will be greeted by voices it does not know in a cold and very bright space… Imagine the shock it may have! Putting the baby on his mother's warm skin is therefore the best gift we can give him.
Of course, if the mother needs to receive care (episiotomy, caesarean section, tearing, etc.) , the person accompanying her can take the baby skin to skin!
You should also know that skin-to-skin can be done immediately after childbirth !
How to practice it?
In general, once your baby is out of the womb, the medical teams will place it on you, directly on your skin. Your baby will be placed on his stomach and his head sideways between your breasts, in order to promote lactation and welcome feeding! If the room is cold, a hat and small socks will perfectly complement. You can also ask to put a diaper on him to keep him warm!
In general, mother-to-child skin-to-skin contact after birth can last up to 2 hours. Then you can pass the baton to your spouse so you can eat a little and go to the bathroom.
If the mother cannot make skin-to-skin contact with her baby, the partner can ask to do it for her!
The benefits of skin-to-skin for the baby
Just like baby massage , the benefits of skin-to-skin are very numerous! Whether the child is full term or premature, skin-to-skin is very beneficial for him. For full-term babies, the benefits of skin-to-skin contact are thought to be:
- Stabilizes body temperature , it is even estimated that a baby is warmer when he is skin to skin with his parents than when he has clothes on him
- Calms the crying , the more the baby is against his parents, the more his stress decreases. It's also a great technique to soothe discharge crying once you get home.
- Stabilizes his breathing and his heart rate , the newborn will stall his breathing on that of his mother, the skin-to-skin contact also makes it possible to limit apnea in the newborn
- Reduces pain , if baby is naked against his parents after birth he will be better able to withstand examinations, blood tests and injections
- Facilitates breastfeeding , one of the first reflexes of the baby after birth is to try to suckle. It is not uncommon to see colostrum flowing from the mother's breasts when she has her baby skin to skin after giving birth!
- Baby is immune thanks to the healthy bacteria present on the skin of his parents.
The benefits for premature infants
Premature babies are babies born before 37 weeks. There are three levels of prematurity: very great prematurity (before 26 WA), great prematurity (between 28 and 32 WA) and medium prematurity (between 32 and 37 WA).
When possible, skin-to-skin contact with a premature baby has positive effects on him:
- His body temperature is better regulated
- His weight gain is improving
- His sleep is more restful and restorative
- His breathing is more stable
- His stress decreases.
Skin-to-skin in the context of a premature birth also allows parents to bond with their newborn who, most of the time, is in another department.
What are the benefits for parents with the kangaroo method?
Yes, the baby is not the only one to benefit from the benefits of the kangaroo method ! The parents can also perceive positive effects such as better recovery for the mother after childbirth , a reduction in parental stress , an increase in self-confidence and a much stronger parent-child bond . In the mother who wishes to breastfeed, we also notice a better production of breast milk ! This better production is due to two hormones: prolactin and oxytocin.
How to practice skin to skin at home?
Skin-to-skin contact can be practiced at home . To continue enjoying the benefits, parents can take their baby skin to skin several times a day! To do this, certain precautions must be taken. You must check that:
- The baby's head is always turned to avoid the risk of suffocation.
- His chin is still slightly up . The neck should not bend forward or backward.
- His legs are bent so that he is curled up.
- You have placed baby on his stomach , chest and shoulder facing his parent's chest.
- The position of the parent is comfortable and he does not fall asleep during the duration of the skin to skin.
You can practice skin-to-skin for as long as needed. Indeed, no age limit exists for this beautiful shared moment! When the children are older, a baby carrier can be perfect for making skin-to-skin contact, but this time with clothes on.
As you have seen, the benefits of skin-to-skin are as numerous for the baby as for their future parents . If you want to do skin-to-skin, think about talking about it and putting it in your birth plan .
Likewise, if you feel uncomfortable and have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to ask the midwives or paediatricians, they are there to help you with all aspects of your new role of parents! Once back home, you can also take babywearing lessons to have your baby in a baby carrier with you all day long.
To continue reading, an article might interest you >> co-sleeping with your baby .