Kimberly Graves posted:
As a post-partum nurse, I have observed that having newborns perform skin-to-skin contact with their parents reduces crying and promotes infant comfort. Using this technique has multiple benefits, and studies have shown that this technique also has positive long-term effects. In research, “findings infer the positive influence of skin-to-skin contact on mother–child interactions in infancy and into children’s middle childhood at 9 years old which indicated a positive trajectory of the parent-child relationship.They found that children who had been in the skin-to-skin group had better cognitive development, better autonomic nervous system functioning, and mother–child interactions were more reciprocal”(Bigelow & Power, 2020).
Skin-to-skin contact is performed by placing a baby dressed in a diaper on the mother’s bare chest. This type of contact per Uvnas-Moberg et al., (2015) “stimulates oxytocin (a hormone and neuropeptide associated with calmness, bonding, and stress reduction) release in mother and infant”. The full-body contact and sound of the mother’s heartbeat are thought to “simulate sensations that the infant experienced prenatally, thereby further reducing stress”(Bigelow & Power, 2020). Additionally, studies have shown that infants who have skin-to-skin contact “sleep better, cry less, have less pain reactions to hospital procedures, and better regulation with their temperatures, heart rate, respiration and gastrointestinal adaption, and weight gain ”(Bigelow & Power, 2020).
Skin-to-skin contact is also referred to as the “kangaroo method” (Seitz, 2017). When this method is performed during the infants first hour of life, it “stimulates a specific part of the newborn’s brain to move to the mom’s breast, attach and begin feeding. Then the baby will open its eyes and gaze upon their mother, thus encouraging emotional and social development” (Seitz, 2017). Skin-to-skin contact is not limited to only mothers. It is also encouraged that the baby’s father, grandparents and other caregivers perform this technique to help soothe the baby, and forge emotional bonds.
It is my theory that skin-to-skin techniques not only helps infants to reduce crying, and promote comfort; it also helps babies fulfill Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: physiological, safety and love. In addition, skin-to-skin contact promotes Jean Watson’s Caritas of “creatively using self and all ways of knowing through creating healing environments via intentional touch, voice, movement, breathing, sound, relaxation, smiling, positive gestures, active listening and heart awareness”(Watson, 2008, p. 286). It is through this technique that health promotion, bonding, and genuine caring relationships are made.