Moms benefit from skin-to-skin contact with their newborn

December 2015

The benefits of skin-to-skin contact for newborns has been well known for years, but new research has found there are benefits for moms, too.

The stress levels of moms before and after they held their babies close against their chest for an hour were studied by researchers at the Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. They found that mom’s stress levels decreased after skin-to-skin contact with their baby.

“It only makes sense that a mother would be placed at ease when giving her baby skin-to-skin contact,” says Lisa Plucinski, lactation services coordinator at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “She has waited nine months to meet her sweet baby, and skin-to-skin contact provides the perfect bonding environment. There is no way to be closer to her baby than skin to skin.”

Plucinski says the benefits of skin-to-skin contact for babies has been well documented. They include:

  • Stabilization of heart rate, breathing patterns and blood oxygen levels
  • Gains in sleep time and weight
  • Decreased crying
  • Enhanced maternal bonding and nurturing, instilling maternal confidence

Dr. Jennifer Schaefer, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Condell, says another benefit of skin-to-skin contact is greater breastfeeding success.

“When a baby is nursing, the mother releases a hormone that helps the uterus contract,” Dr. Schaefer says. “That means less post-partum bleeding. So skin-to-skin contact is really better all around – for the baby, for the mom and even for the doctor – because once the baby is born, my focus is on the mom and how she’s doing.”

Now that research suggests moms benefit from skin-to-skin contact, there’s even more reason to promote this form of bonding, Plucinski says.

“When a baby is born, they come from a warm, wet, dark environment into a bright, cold room,” she says. “They lose the sound of their mother’s heartbeat, a repetitive, beating comfort they have known up to that point. Skin-to-skin contact provides the perfect transition as it is the most womb-like space.

“The baby hears their mother’s heartbeat, they smell mom, they are warm, cuddled and able to relax hearing the familiar sound of their parents’ voices. Skin-to-skin contact provides gentle transitioning utilizing all infant senses. It’s perfectly reasonable to think it would benefit both the baby and the mom.”

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