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Skin-to-skin contact, or kangaroo care, is generally something avoided for premmie bubs. But research finds that’s no longer true.

Kangaroo care, (when a newborn baby cuddles bare chest with parents), has been proven in past research to improve breastfeeding rates, normalise temperature, increase cognitive function and assist in bonding and attachment.

The benefits of skin-to-skin contact are widely known and practised in Australian hospitals.

But until now there has been concern about the risks for very premature babies, who have to be taken out of an incubator and are usually attached to all kinds of life-supporting tubes and monitors.

New research from the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne has found that skin-to-skin contact is safe for even the smallest of infants, shares ABC news.

Neonatal paediatrician Sue Jacobs co-authored the study and said the findings were important.

“We know the benefits of skin-to-skin care for bigger babies. We didn’t know about it for these tiny vulnerable babies,” she said.

“So we’re in a bit of a dilemma in that we worry that every single thing we do to them could make them unstable.”

The study monitored the way 40 very pre-term babies on breathing support responded to 90 minutes in the incubator when compared with the same time having skin-to-skin contact with their parents.

It showed that there was little difference in a baby’s blood oxygen levels and profusion in their brain.

It also showed no change of heart rate, breathing rate and temperature.

“So what it tells us — and particularly [for] the nursing staff caring at the bedside — is that it’s OK to put these babies into skin-to-skin care, it’s not going to make them unstable,” Dr Jacobs said.

“Hopefully they will experience the same benefits of skin-to-skin care as bigger babies do.”

Dr Jacobs said the study’s results have already seen changes at the Royal Women’s Hospital.

“It’s given us the confidence in our care and our carers to provide skin-to-skin care earlier after birth, as in the smallest babies in our unit and to practise it for prolonged periods of time on multiple occasions throughout the day.”

Fantastic news!

Did you struggle not being able to hold your infant?

Share your comments below. 

Image via Getty

  • If a baby isn’t breathing properly sometimes it is more important for them to be given the necessary treatment. I know of one very premature baby whose skin was so thin even the NCIU staff were wary of touching the baby’s skin any more than absolutely necessary for a few days. After a few days the parents were able to put their hands in and hold the baby’s hands. Most hospitals will now allow the parents to go into the nursery for cuddles etc. before they are allowed into the other parts of the Maternity section. I wish they woiuyld stop other relatives and friends from going into the nursery, especially NCIU. Somebody took a virus in, some babies became critcially ill, a lot of them at the same time. I know for a fact that one wasn’t strong enough to fight if off and died. He was due to have gone home in a few days. This particular couple had already lost 3 babies to miscarriage or stillborn and weren’t able to have another baby at all.

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  • My poor darling wasn’t allowed to be handled in any way for the first 6 weeks of her life. No wonder she is stand-offish with everyone and doesn’t like to be touched.

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  • Yes I agree it is important for bub to be close and warm.

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  • This is a great idea.

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  • Great news. And makes sense for a little bub struggling to be back close to Mum’s heart.

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  • My boys were not born premature but it would have been torture not to be able to hold them straight away. Hopefully this will encourage the hospitals to allow Mums to hold their premature babies immediately.

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  • My baby was 8 weeks preemie and i wasn’t able to hold her for 3 days due to her breathing difficulties it was the hardest 3 days
    My husband and son were not able to hold her until after 5 days.

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  • Hasn’t the skin to skin thing fir premmie babies been around for quite a while now? So glad it’s becoming more common practice. Nothing more heartbreaking then having a sick baby you can’t touch, especialky when you know how beneficial it is


    • Oh yes, it has been around for quite a while now ! but am afraid still not common practice !!

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  • My daughter was born 10 weeks early with a weight of 880 grams and it wasn’t until she was a week old I could hold her, which was so hard.
    And even after a couple of weeks when I was holding her the nurses would always hover over me and keep the skin to skin contact sooooooo short that it was totally frustrating for me. I think the hospital she was admitted was very much of the old stamp. They weren’t pro kangaroo care at all !

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  • I wasn’t allowed to see my first prem bub for 24 hours after he was born it was torture

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