For baby and mom, that first hour after birth matters

May 18, 2016

More and more hospitals around Michigan and across the country are starting to implement what’s called “Kangaroo Care,” skin-to-skin bonding for mothers and their newborn babies.

Dr. Cat Macardle is senior resident in the Dept. of OBGYN at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ann Arbor. She explained how skin-to-skin contact between baby and mom does “wonderful things.”

As Macardle said, skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby, about an hour after birth, helps regulate baby’s temperature, glucose, bilirubin and more. But it’s not only baby who benefits – mom does too.

That contact gives mom a large burst of oxytocin, the “feel-good hormone,” Macardle said. It also stops the new mother from bleeding as much. But even more than that, Macardle said skin-to-skin contact helps the new mother and her child bond more effectively.

“We know that their attachment bonding process just works so much better,” Macardle said. “Right up to about a year, we see moms who’ve had skin-to-skin straight after birth do things like touch their children more and caress their babies a little bit more and bring them to their pediatricians more often – which is fascinating.”

Macardle said it is possible for women who have c-sections to partake in kangaroo care too. While it is not known whether the benefits of skin-to-skin contact between babies and dads, partners and grandparents are the same, she says she “can’t imagine they’re detrimental.”