THE SCIENCE BEHIND
the Practice of
Over 40 years of research has proven that in the early months of life, Skin-to-Skin contact, also referred to as Kangaroo Care, creates remarkable benefits for you and your baby.
Skin-to-Skin contact is a multi-sensory experience. Holding baby on your skin increases the development of essential neural pathways, which accelerates brain maturation. In addition, research shows that kangaroo’ed babies spend more time in quiet sleep, which enhances organizational patterns in the brain and decreases baby’s stress responses.
The direct connection with your skin during Kangaroo Care soothes baby so much that babies’ cortisol levels (stress hormone) are measurably lowered after only 20 minutes of being held Skin-to-Skin. And, remarkably, their pain is reduced when held Skin-to-Skin. As a result, babies who experience regular Kangaroo Care often cry less and appear less agitated.
Maintaining body temperature is essential for young infants who do not yet have the skills to keep themselves warm. Nature takes care of that through a process known as thermoregulation. Within minutes of being held Skin-to-Skin, the mother’s breasts automatically adjust to cool baby down or warm him up, in response to what baby needs. And if you have twins, mom’s breasts can act independently to take care of multiple babies at once.
QUALITY OF SLEEP
Development of mature brain function in infants depends on the quality of their sleep cycling. During Kangaroo Care, most infants fall asleep easily, and achieve what is called “Quiet Sleep”, a natural deep sleep for 60 minutes or more. This is important, because research points to Quiet Sleep as one of the most beneficial for accelerating brain patterning and maturation.
Baby’s immune system is stimulated when placed Skin-to-Skin. Mom’s mature immune system passes antibodies through her skin and breast milk to baby. Being on mom’s skin also increases baby’s skin hydration, which provides a protective barrier from harmful bacteria entering baby’s skin.
DIGESTION & WEIGHT GAIN
Kangaroo Care reduces cortisol + somatostatin in babies, allowing for better absorption and digestion of nutrients, while lessening gastrointestinal problems. With a reduction of these hormones, their bodies preserve brown fat (healthy fat babies are born with), helping to maintain birth weight and keep a warm body temperature. As a result, baby’s body does not have to burn its own fat stores to stay warm, resulting in better weight gain. After just one hour of Skin-to-Skin, the infant’s digestive system is restored to the right balance for optimal GI function.
HEART RATE & BREATHING
Simply put, through Kangaroo Care, baby’s body learns to self-regulate, resulting in a regular and stable heart beat and breathing pattern. 75% of sporadic breathing and slow heart rate episodes are reduced through Skin-to-Skin.
Studies have shown that newborns held Skin-to-Skin immediately after birth are TWICE AS LIKELY to breastfeed within the first hour than swaddled newborns. 60 minutes of Skin-to-Skin increases feeding frequency and raises prolactin levels in mom, a hormone critical for maintaining an adequate milk supply.
Reduces risk of
Kangaroo Care increases the levels of maternal oxytocin, which serves to restore mom’s pre-pregnancy hormonal levels and reduce the risk of postpartum depression.
Studies have shown that moms who practice Kangaroo Care from the start are more likely to continue exclusive breastfeeding when they bring baby home. The surge in maternal oxytocin and prolactin levels in the early hours after birth appear to have long-term effects in increased milk production. Moms who experience breastfeeding difficulties are likely to see near-immediate improvements by practicing Kangaroo Care for at least 60 minutes per session, 1-2 times a day.
Increased levels of maternal oxytocin are released while mom is holding baby in Kangaroo Care, which in turn…
- Reduces blood pressure
- Lowers cortisol levels (stress hormone)
- Reduces postpartum bleeding
- Increases pain tolerance
PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL BEING
The increased levels of maternal oxytocin, a natural hormone that creates a “relaxation and well-being” response, aids in mom responding with nurturing and affectionate behaviors toward her baby. Mom is more sensitive and aware of her baby’s needs and feels more confident about her parenting skills.