Category Archives: Touch & Sexuality

‘Kangaroo’ Alternative to Incubators for Preemies

According to the New York Times:

“Kangaroo care has been widely studied. A trial in a Bogota hospital of 746 low birth weight babies randomly assigned to either kangaroo or conventional incubator care found that the kangaroo babies had shorter hospital stays, better growth of head circumference and fewer severe infections …

A conservative summary of the evidence to date is that kangaroo care is at least as good as conventional treatment — and perhaps better.”

Dr Mercola’s Comments…

Kangaroo care is a somewhat new name for a very old tradition, one that has been followed instinctively by women across the globe since the beginning of time. Namely, it refers to holding a newborn, including those born prematurely, close to its mother’s bare chest, like a kangaroo holds its joey in its pouch.

Although it’s been used for centuries, the modern-day method is credited to Dr. Edgar Rey, the chief of the pediatrics department at the Mother and Child Institute in Bogota, Colombia, who began using kangaroo care in the 1970s because of a shortage of incubators.

Since then, such skin-to-skin contact has proven to be incredibly beneficial for newborns, so much so that in hospitals where incubators are in short supply using kangaroo care has increased low birth weight babies’ survival rates from 10 percent to 50 percent, and larger babies’ survival rates from 70 percent to 90 percent.

The Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact for Newborns

Quite simply, skin-to-skin contact is probably one of the most important steps you can take to give your baby a healthy start right after birth. Just take a few minutes to watch the video below and you’ll see that skin-to-skin contact can actually make the difference between life and death.

When a mother holds her newborn against her bare skin:

* The baby’s temperature is regulated by the close contact — in fact, a woman’s breasts will change in temperature depending on whether the baby needs more or less warmth.
* The mother’s breathing and heartbeat helps the baby’s heart and respiratory rates to stabilize.
* The mother produces more milk and the baby breastfeeds earlier, gaining more weight.
* Emotional bonding is encouraged.

Babies who receive kangaroo care also show:

* Gains in sleep time
* Decreased crying
* More successful breastfeeding
* Improved oxygen saturation levels
* More regular breathing patterns
* More rapid weight gain
* Earlier hospital discharge

As the New York Times reported, in one trial of nearly 750 low birth weight babies, those who received kangaroo care had shorter hospital stays, better growth of head circumference and fewer severe infections than babies placed in incubators.

A separate study also revealed that when mothers initiated skin-to-skin contact with their newborns 15 to 20 minutes after birth, the infants slept longer and more peacefully, using positions that indicated less stress.

After the contact ended, the effects of the skin-to-skin contact seemed to continue even four hours later, as the babies displayed less stressful body movements after spending several hours in the nursery.

The researchers suggested that the most dangerous and stressful events that occur during the human life cycle take place during the transition from the womb to the real world, therefore mothers who made a point of giving their infants skin-to-skin contact would help their newborn adjust to their new unfamiliar surroundings.

Kangaroo Care Encourages Breastfeeding

Outside of the temperature and breathing regulation, as well as the emotional benefits, one of the best reasons to use kangaroo care is that it increases the likelihood of successful breastfeeding.

This is important as breastfeeding offers your child lifelong health benefits, not only cutting their risk of SIDS in half, but also providing added protection against:

* Heart disease
* Bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease
* Asthma, allergies, and respiratory infections
* Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
* Eczema

Moms who use kangaroo care have increased milk supply and their babies have an easier time nursing, so it’s a simple way to encourage a positive, successful breastfeeding experience.

If Your Hospital Doesn’t Suggest Kangaroo Care, Ask for It

Or rather, demand it.

As a new parent, be sure you make it clear that you want to spend as much time as possible engaging in skin-to-skin contact with your newborn, including, and especially, if your baby is born premature.

Whether you are giving birth in a hospital or at home, let your obstetrician or midwife, as well as the nursing staff, know that you want the baby placed on your chest immediately after delivery. And for those who are wondering, dads can take part in kangaroo care, too.

The process is actually incredibly simple. Place the baby, wearing only a diaper and if you like a hat, on your bare chest. Then cover the baby with a blanket or gown, and enjoy the bonding time together.

And that’s all there is to it. A simple and instinctive practice that will give both you and baby a warm, secure start to your new life together.

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How Hugs Can Aid Women’s Hearts

BBC NEWS

Women’s heart health may benefit more from hugs than men’s, a study suggests.

A team from the University of North Carolina studied the effects of hugging on both partners in 38 couples.

The study showed hugs increased levels of oxytocin, a “bonding” hormone, and reduced blood pressure – which cuts the risk of heart disease.

But, writing in the Psychosomatic Medicine, the researchers said women recorded greater reductions in blood pressure than men after their hugs.

This growing body of research only goes to highlight how important social support is for everyone, not just those in a relationship
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, British Heart Foundation

During the study, the men and women were taken to separate rooms to test their blood pressure and levels of oxytocin, which is released during childbirth and breastfeeding, and cortisol, a stress hormone.

The couples were then reunited and asked to sit together and talk about a time when they were particularly happy.

They then watched five minutes of a romantic film before being left to talk to each other for a further 10 minutes.

Next, the couples were asked to hug for 20 seconds.

Protection

Both men and women were seen to have higher levels of oxytocin after the hug.

People in loving relationships were found to have higher levels of the hormone than others.

But the study also found all women had reduced levels of cortisol following the hug, as well as reporting the blood pressure benefits.

The researchers, led by psychologist Dr Karen Grewen, wrote in Psychosomatic Medicine: “Greater partner support is linked to higher oxytocin levels for both men and women.

“However, the importance of oxytocin and its potentially cardioprotective effects may be greater for women.”

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation, said: “Scientists are increasingly interested in the possibility that positive emotions can be good for your health.

“This study has reinforced research findings that support from a partner, in this case a hug from a loved one, can have beneficial effects on heart health.”

She added: “British Heart Foundation researchers have already demonstrated links between a positive emotional state, such as happiness, and low levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

“This growing body of research only goes to highlight how important social support is for everyone, not just those in a relationship.”

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/4131508.stm

Published: 2005/08/08 12:28:52 GMT

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