Educating yourself as a mother is pretty powerful.Â You know what it feels like to hold your baby close to your heart.Â The bliss yet the calm that overtakes you when you smell her head. Yet there is a lot of science backing babywearing that is reaffirming what we already know.
Here are some benefits that you, your friends or your family may not know about-
Carrying your baby upright on your chest…
1. Enhances immunological protectionÂ â If the mother is breastfeeding her baby, she will raise antibodies in response to all of the microbes that they come in contact with and transfer them to the baby. (Lawn, 2010)2 Touch is so important to the healthy development of an infant that a lack of touch, or separation of mother and newborn (even with strollers), actually causes high amounts of the toxic stress hormone cortisol to be released. High levels of cortisol in the blood and separation from mother may negatively impact immune function as the body may stop producing leukocytes (infection fighting cells).
2. Prevents ear infections and eases the symptoms of GERD (Tasker, 2002)13
3. Regulates body temperature â Baby can better maintain his own temperature even with dad or other caretaker. Baby can actually have “thermal synchrony” with mother. If the baby gets too cold the motherâs body temperature will actually warm up one degree to help warm the baby(Ludington-Hoe, 2006)10. If the baby gets too hot, the motherâs body temperature will decrease one degree to cool the baby. The flexed position on motherâs chest is a more efficient position for
conserving heat than laying horizontal.
4. Enhances lactation, the prevalence, and the duration of breast-feeding (Furman, 2002)9
5. Enhances growth/weight gain â High cortisol levels that result from mother baby separation has a negative impact on growth hormone. With mother present to help assist in regulating the babyâs breathing, heart rate, and temperature, the baby has decreased energy needs and can conserve his energy and calories and direct itÂ toward growth. (Charpak, 2005)5
6. Supports arousal regulation â When held upright on their mothersâ chests babies spend more time in a quiet alert state, the optimumstate for observing and processing.
7. Reduces apnea and uneven breathing patternsÂ âWhen a baby is worn on the chest of either parent there is usually an improvement in breathing patterns. The baby can hear the breathing and it stimulates the babyâs
breathing so that the baby imitates the parent.
8. Stabilizes heart rate â Bradycardia (low heart rate below 100) is markedly reduced
and tachycardia (heart rates of 180 or more) rarely occurs. (McCain, 2005)11 Heart rate is so important because a babyâs brain requires a steady and consistent flow of blood to get the oxygen it needs to grow and perform properly.
9. Relieves Stress Reactions â Babies deal with pain better and cry less in response to pain (for procedures such as heel sticks). (Kostandy, 2008)1
10. Improves neurobehavior â Score higher on mental and motor development tests in the first year of life. (Charpak et al., 2005)2
11. Increases oxygenation of the babyâs body.(Feldman, 2003)8
12. Provides longer periods of restful sleep â Babies remain more calm and transition from one sleep state to another (Ferber, 2004)4 and also sleep longer in general. (Messemer, 1997)12
13. Mimics the environment of the wombÂ âBaby continues to receive touch, rhythm and pressure and the soothing and comforting
sounds of his motherâs heart beat, breathing and rhythmic rocking. Baby is in an ideal holding place during the “exterogestation“- or the second nine months after her birth.
14. Saves lives â According to the latest studies, the practicing of Kangaroo Care, or the special way
of holding your preterm infant skin to skin, shows a 51 percent reduction in newborn mortality when babies (stable and less than 2 kg) were kangarooed within the first week after birth and breastfed by their mothers. (Lawn, 2010)2
1 Kostandy et al., âKangaroo Care (Skin Contact) Reduces Crying Response to Pain in Preterm Neonates: Pilot Results,â Pain
Management Nursing 2008: 9:55-65
2 Lawn et al., ââKangaroo Mother Careâ to Prevent Neonatal Deaths Due to Preterm Birth Complications,â International Journal of
Epidemiologyâ 2010: April.
3 Whiting, J.M.W., âEnvironmental Constraints on Infant Care Practicesâ. In Handbook of Cross-Cultural Human Development
edited by R.H. Munroe, R.L. Munroe & B.B. Whiting, New York:Garland STPM Press, 2005.
4 Ferber et al., âThe Effect of Skin-to-Skin Contact (Kangaroo Care) Shortly After Birth on the Neurobehavioral Responses of the Term
Newborn: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Pediatrics 113 2004:858-865.
5 Charpak, N., âKangaroo Mother Care: 25 Years After,â Acta Paediatric 94 2005: 5, 514-522.
6 Powell, A. âHarvard Researchers Say Children Need Touching and Attention,â Harvard Gazette.
7 Ludington-Hoe, S. Kangaroo Care: The Best You Can Do to Help Your Preterm Infant. New York: Bantam Books, 1993.
8 Feldman et al. âTesting a Family Intervention Hypothesis: The Contribution of Mother-Infant Skin-to-Skin contact (kangaroo
care) to Family Interaction, Proximity, and Touch,â 2003 March Journal of Family Psychology. Vol. 17, 94-107
9 Furman, L. âCorrelates of Lactation of Very Low Birth Weight Infants,â 2002 Pediatrics Vol. 109 (4) 57
10 Ludington-Hoe, S. âBreast Infant Temperature with Twins during shared Kangaroo Care,â 2006 Journal of Obstetric , Gynecologic
and Neonatal Nursing, 35 (2) 223-231
11 McCain, G et al. âHeart Rate Variability Responses of a Preterm Infant to Kangaroo Care,â 2005 Journal of Obstetrics,
Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing,â 34 (6), 689-694.
12 Messmer P. et al., âEffect of Kangaroo Care on Sleep Time for Neonates,â 1997 Pediatr. Nurs. 23, no. 4 408-414.
13 Tasker, A., Dettmar, P. W., Panetti, M., Koufman, J. A., Birchall, J. P., and Pearson, J. P. (2002). Is gastric reflux a cause of Otitis media with effusion in children? The Laryngoscope, 112:1930â1934.