Importance of skin to skin care
SKIN TO SKIN CARE
Skin to skin contact is also known as ‘kangaroo care’ in neonatal units, and this practice helps parents to bond with their baby ,as well as supporting better physical and developmental outcomes for the baby.
The practice of skin to skin( kangaroo care) involves babies being positioned comfortably and securely upright on the baby's mother or father’s chest.
If a baby’s condition is too unstable to come out of the incubator for kangaroo care, parents are encouraged to carry out comfort holding whilst at the same time talking to or reading to their baby in a soothing voice.
Kangaroo care helps babies and mothers in many ways.
*Calms and relaxes both mother and baby
*Regulates the baby’s heart rate and breathing, helping them to better adapt to life outside the womb
*Stimulates digestion and an interest in feeding
*Enables colonisation of the baby’s skin with mother’s friendly bacteria, thus providing protection against infection
*Stimulates the release of hormones to support breastfeeding and mothering
Additional benefits for babies in the neonatal unit
*Improves oxygen saturation
*Reduces cortisol (stress) levels particularly following painful procedures
*Encourages pre-feeding behaviour
*Assists with growth*
*May reduce hospital stay
*If the mother expresses following a period of skin to skin contact, her milk volume will improve and the milk expressed will contain the most up –to-date antibodies
Parents should have a conversation with an appropriate member of staff as soon as possible about the importance of touch, comfort and communication for their baby’s health and development.
Parents are encouraged to be with their baby as often as possible as this is very important for his/her development. The family and baby can get to know each other (siblings are encouraged to visit) and the baby will get to know their family’s voices and touch, and the whole family will become familiar with the baby’s behavioural cues(movements and noises).