WILL PINKSTON | The Sun
Enjoying a warm Sunday afternoon, Jessica VandenBerg and Will Mooney hold 5-month old Teegan on their front porch. Skin-to-skin contact helped form a comforting bond for baby Teegan with her parents in the first weeks after her birth, VandenBerg said.
For a newborn baby nothing can compare to their parents’ warm embrace and immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth that not only promotes bonding, but healthy benefits as well.
Still a relatively new concept that’s growing in popularity across the nation, Kangaroo Care ensures a mother’s bond with her baby, as well as promotes successful breastfeeding through direct skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her baby.
Wearing only a diaper, the baby is placed chest-to-chest with the mother to allow the newborn to bond for a period of 30 minutes to an hour while in recovery. The positioning helps maintain the newborn’s body temperature, regulate the heart beat and breathing rates, allows the baby to be alert and quiet or sleep more soundly, and promotes a better chance for breastfeeding, said Debbie Cornwell, R.N., Western Baptist Hospital lactation consultant.
“We’re seeing breastfeeding rates going up with this care,” Cornwell said, as the hospital has been advocating Kangaroo Care for several years.
“It’s a natural instinct to breastfeed and that’s really what’s best for the baby. We want to strive for that because it’s based in medical evidence.”
According to the University of Louisville Hospital Center for Women and Infants, breastfeeding rates increased from 45 percent to 66 percent in seven months while using the skin-to-skin technique.
“Both the mother and the child stand to benefit greatly from Kangaroo Care, in stabilization of vital signs, decreasing of stress and an overall calming effect,” said Elisha Burgess, R.N. at Murray-Calloway County Hospital, in a news release.
Only moments after Jessica VandenBerg gave birth to her baby girl, Teegan, health care workers placed the newborn on VandenBerg’s chest. All the while Teegan’s eyes were wide open and inquisitive of her surroundings.
“She looked up at me and that was just an absolutely great, great moment,” VandenBerg said.
“That’s your bonding period. Those first few minutes are so important for the baby to be with the mother and to feel that skin-to-skin contact.”
The skin-to-skin contact is usually maintained for several weeks after birth and fathers are encouraged to keep up the practice, as well. For the first few weeks, Teegan — now 5-months old — would spend a little while on her mother’s or father’s chest and clearly could identify her parents’ comforting touch from others, said Will Mooney, the baby’s father.
“She still does it, she knows the exact position that’s comforting to her,” he said.
Call Will Pinkston, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.