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'Skin-to-skin' important for development of babies


"Ask the Experts" asked about keeping moms and babies together after cesarean birth. I happily applaud the OB/GYN medical doctors for integrating into the birthing experience what the newly born need desperately for brain development and thriving — reconnection with mother through multisensory skin-to-skin contact, reproducing to a large degree the environment which nurtured the baby (especially her/his brain) prenatally, reducing stress hormones, crying less, regulating body temperature, improving quality of sleep (which promotes brain development), improving immune and digestive systems, stabilizing heart and breathing rates and enhancing breast feeding. In addition, mothers gain from the skin-to-skin experience reduced postpartum depression, increased milk production, reduced blood pressure, lower stress hormones, decreased postpartum bleeding, increased pain tolerance and promoted psychological well-being.

Strong evidence from the research of Dr. James W. Prescott, former administrator of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, indicates that somatosensory deprivation (lack of appropriate skin-to-skin contact) in our early stages of development is the most significant factor among several causing human violence. As I happily applaud this movement of skin-to-skin nurture of our infants, I do so with hope that the whole community surrounding new mothers will offer loving support for such nurture, hoping for emotional, social and world peace.

Elizabeth Gray


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