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For baby and mom, that first hour after birth matters

Newborn baby with mother
Flickr user howardignatius/Flickr

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.”