Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Skin-to-Skin Contact: It's Not Just For Birth

More people are hearing about the benefits of skin-to-skin contact between babies and parents.  As a Certified Lactation Counselor, one of my favorite pieces of advice for new parents is to use skin-to-skin (STS) well beyond the moment of birth.  For babies, breastfeeding is a "full-body experience," and they need the sensory input of STS to let them know where they are in space, and to send a signal to their brains to begin latching correctly.  Babies also need to be able to use their hands to knead the breast, and STS helps raise levels of a mother's milk-making hormones.  If breastfeeding is not perfected after the first few days of life, by all means continue to use STS to help speed up the process!  Hope Parish and Daniela Jensen will be offering a FREE Webinar about STS, hosted by Isis Parenting, on Wednesday May 15, 2013 at 8:00 PM Eastern Time.  To register, visit  Hope and Daniela are the creators of the NüRoo Pocket, a garment that holds baby STS for what is also known as "Kangaroo Care."  See below for more information about the Webinar, as well as the "Top 10 Myths of Kangaroo Care and STS" by Hope Parish and Daniela Jensen. 

Webinar:  Skin-to-Skin and Kangaroo Care

Over 35 years of research tell us that Kangaroo Care goes well beyond bonding. Although other countries have been practicing for decades, the United States is now implementing changes to make skin-to-skin the standard of care for both pre- and full- term babies. The WHO, CDC, Surgeon General and American Academy of Pediatrics all encourage mom and baby to practice skin-to-skin immediately after birth and as often as possible throughout the postpartum period. 

We’ll describe the history and origin of Skin-to-Skin, how and why Kangaroo Care works, the science of the c-afferent nerve, and share evidence-based research proving the multitude of physiologic benefits for both mom and baby. We’ll discuss separation vs. non-separation, newborn sleep patterns, and how skin-to-skin helps to achieve breastfeeding goals. Learn practical details to the practice in a variety of settings and what 60 minutes of uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact will deliver.

Who should attend this free Webinar? Birth, parenting and medical professionals, expecting, new, and adoptive parents, and all those interested in biology, health and the well-being of babies. Attendees will be fascinated by the science of this nurturing practice that delivers real clinical results. Fully referenced -- bring uninterrupted skin-to-skin care to your own birth, birthing facility, OR and NICU.

Top 10 Myths of Kangaroo Care and STS

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Surgeon General are encouraging moms to practice skin-to-skin immediately after birth and throughout the postpartum period. Learn these myths to ensure mom and baby receive all the benefits!
  1. Kangaroo Care (KC) and Skin-to-Skin Contact are two different things.Not necessarily.  KC is the formal practice of Skin-to-Skin Contact where baby is wearing only a diaper, positioned vertically on mom’s chest, allowing for full bare chest to bare chest contact and nerve stimulation. Skin-to-Skin contact is a more colloquial term for the practice, but it can mean various Skin-to-Skin positions (ie: baby breastfeeding in moms arms, cheek to chest or belly to belly).
  2. Any amount of time spent Skin-to-Skin delivers physiologic benefits.False. Baby needs to be held for an uninterrupted 60 minutes to elicit a hormonal cascade delivering all the physical benefits KC offers.
  3. Kangaroo Care is only for premature babies.False. It was initially utilized as a life-saving practice for preterm infants but there are over 160 research studies on the full-term newborn that document the need for and benefits of KC. It is promoted as an “Essential element of newborn care to save and improve all newborn lives” by UNICEF, Save The Children and the World Health Organization.
  4. Skin-to-skin’s only benefit is bonding.
    False. Research has shown bonding is one of many benefits that are received by mom and baby including accelerated brain development, less colic and crying, better eating and sleeping, improved weight gain and a stronger immune system. (Learn all the benefits here.)
  5. Kangaroo Care only works when a biological mother provides benefits to her baby.
    False. KC can be achieved by any human-to-human touch that triggers nerve stimulation on the front of the chest. This includes dads, grandparents, siblings and adoptive parents.
  6. Skin-to-Skin is only important immediately following birth.
    False. Skin-to-Skin is encouraged immediately after birth, throughout the hospital stay, and well after discharge. Families are encouraged to practice Skin-to-Skin for an uninterrupted 60 minutes during the first 12 weeks and beyond. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends Skin-to-Skin be given as long as possible and as frequently as possible during the post partum period.
  7. Kangaroo Care can only be performed in bed.
    False. Baby can be held in KC while mom is up on her feet and moving around, so long as they are secure, supported, and in the correct KC position.
  8. Skin-to-skin contact is only for moms that plan to/are breastfeeding.
    False. All moms can practice skin-to-skin, regardless of their choice to breastfeed. The benefits received while holding baby in KC occurs independently of breastfeeding. The beneficial hormonal cascade does not occur while breastfeeding.
  9. Swaddling a baby is more conducive to keeping baby warm and calm in comparison to skin-to-skin contact.
    False. When a baby is swaddled it cannot interact with his mother, the way nature intended. With skin to skin contact, the mother and the baby exchange sensory information that stimulates and elicits “baby” behavior: rooting and searching for the breast, staying calm, breathing more naturally, staying warm, maintaining his body temperature and maintaining his blood sugar. The very best environment for a baby to grow and thrive is the mother’s body.
  10. Kangaroo Care only provides benefits to baby.
    False. Mom receives benefits from Kangaroo Care, too! The same hormonal cascade that is activated in baby’s body, also occurs in mom’s body delivering benefits that include: faster recovery from vaginal/c-section delivery, increased milk production, reduction of stress hormones and less risk for postpartum depression.
Watch this video to see how the NüRoo Pocket provides coverage and mobility to moms practicing skin-to-skin.


  1. Looking forward to this webinar, sharing it with all my clients!
    BTW, are there CEUs available for this webinar for postpartum doulas?

    1. Emilie, I am not aware that Isis Parenting, the host of the Webinar, is offering official CEUs. However, sometimes a doula organization will grant CEUs if you print the information about the presentation and mail it to them, asking for CEUs. You can call your doula organization to see if this will be OK!

  2. My son is three months old. I did STS and KC when he was first born. Would he benefit from this if I start again or is it too late since he is already three months and I haven't been consistent?

  3. Hi Megan, I am familiar with the recommendation to do STS for the first 12 weeks of life, and I just don't know if we have research beyond that age. I can't think of a reason not to do it! Especially if there are any remaining breastfeeding issues such as poor latch, or if you want to boost your milk supply, I personally think it may help. Best wishes!