The Incredible Healing Effect of Mother's Touch
by Eleni Roumeliotou
Green Med Info. 8 May 2015
Skin to skin contact between the mother and her new-born baby can have impressive healing and even life-saving effects for the infant.
The human body is not just a dynamic sophisticated biochemical and genetic system; there are strong energetic, emotional and psychological aspects that interact decisively with the physical counterparts of the body and can make a very measurable difference in our physiological functions.
A valid proof of this comes from the neonatal Kangaroo care method (K method), which requires skin to skin contact between the mother and the newborn baby. While this simple intervention provides superior support for preterm, low-weight babies, in comparison to conventional practices, such as the use of incubator, it is rarely included in official hospital policies or recommended to mothers by mainstream experts.
Pediatricians have expressed fears that keeping a preterm baby outside of an incubator during the Kangaroo interaction, may expose the infant to cold with subsequent loss of body heat and lower body temperatures, which can be critical to the survival and wellbeing of weak babies. Research however shows that the exact opposite is happening during the K care method. A study involving low-weight preterm babies (less than 1.5 Kg) and their mothers, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that the body temperature of the newborn actually rises when the infant is skin to skin in touch with the mother's chest.
Perhaps the most remarkable story that was brought to the public's attention is the miraculous revival of premature baby boy Jamie Ogg, who, following his birth was pronounced dead by doctors after 20 minutes of resuscitation efforts. His mother put him on her chest and held him for 2 hours, when he suddenly started to gasp for air and was soon breathing normally.
Apart from such dramatic recoveries, clinicians have recorded impressive positive impact of the K method on a variety of physiological and behavioral parameters on newborns. For example, doctors from the Pediatric Department in New Delhi hospital in India conducted a randomized control trial of the effects of the Kangaroo mother care method. 28 mother and low birth-weight baby dyads (baby weight less than 1.5 Kg at the time of birth) were assigned either to the control group (incubator or standard open care) or the K group, where the mother kept the baby in touch with her skin for at least 4 hours per day in no more than 3 sittings.
The authors concluded that:
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