Midwives at the Royal Berkshire Hospital celebrated International Kangaroo Care Fortnight with twenty four hours dedicated to promoting the benefits of skin-to-skin contact.
With a stand in main reception, and literature and kangaroos in every form, from balloons to biscuits, the team across Maternity and the neonatal unit spread the message to everyone on the benefits skin-to-skin contact has for mums, dads and babies.
To add another fun element to the two days they also took part in the global ‘Kangaroo Challenge’., counting the number of hours of skin-to-skin cuddles with mums, dads and babies both in hospital and inviting families at home to join in.
Last year 95 hospitals in locations around the world took part in the Kangaroo-a-thon, which is held annually during the International Kangaroo Care fortnight. The Kangaroo Challenge is a great opportunity to share skin-to-skin stories and to collaborate with neonatal units worldwide and also see which unit could accumulate the longest amount of hours of skin-to-skin holding. The team at Royal Berks hospital notched up an impressive 354 hours, although with results from other hospitals not in yet, it’s still too early to know where they came on the leaderboard!
Skin-to-skin contact is usually referred to as the practice where a baby is dried and laid directly on their mother’s bare chest after birth, both of them covered in a warm blanket and left for at least an hour or until after the first feed. Skin-to-skin contact can also take place any time a baby needs comforting or calming and to help boost a mother’s milk supply. Skin-to-skin contact is also vital in neonatal units, where it is often known as ‘kangaroo care’, helping parents to bond with their baby, as well as supporting better physical and developmental outcomes for the baby
The skin-to-skin practice was originally developed in Colombia as an alternative method to incubator care, where incubators where not always available. The practice was a way to keep premature babies warm so that they could be released from overcrowded hospitals, But the possible benefits go beyond simply keeping the baby warm.
It has been demonstrated to give benefits to both the baby and the parents. It activates oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone, and fosters bonding between people. When parents hold their babies to their bare chests both baby and parent receive a boost of oxytocin, which makes the parents feel better, calm and more relaxed.
Skin-to-skin-contact provides huge benefit to every baby. Babies who receive skin-to-skin contact bond better with parents, act more relaxed, display lower heart and breathing rates and have more stable sugar and temperature levels.
While much of the research on skin-to-skin contact involves mums and babies, some research does look at dads and finds it is just as important.
It can help with their attachment and it can help foster the parental feelings if the dad does it. Skin-to-skin contact boosts that close physical connection between dad and baby.
14 May 2018