Heart-to-Heart Bonding With Your Newborn
I know that many people use the term “skin-to-skin” for when a baby is placed on their mother or father’s chest for bonding. However, I would like to rename this “heart to heart” because I think that is better description of this amazing phenomenon. When a baby is either born prematurely or with compromised health, the natural birth process is sadly interrupted due to a medical emergency. Then a baby who is already struggling is unfortunately emotionally and physically separated from individuals that could help them best regulate their body systems both neurologically and socially. When a baby is held skin-to-skin their need for oxygen is decreased, respiratory distress is diminished, and it is easier for them to tolerate painful procedures. This is why in a NICU setting it is more important than ever to place the baby skin-to-skin when medically possible.
I have noticed in my many years of NICU experience that when a baby is placed heart to heart with his or her parents, the anxiety of the parents lessens despite the baby’s cardiac and saturation monitors, IVs, and various other medical interventions. This creates a bond that cannot be duplicated in any other way. Many NICU parents feel as though this is the only intervention that they can do for their babies, but in the NICU we say this is the most important intervention that can be provided. As an IBCLC I also cannot say enough about the benefits of having a baby heart to heart with their mother in the pre-feeding stages. This later creates feeding readiness to help the baby breastfeed successfully when developmentally appropriate. The practice of skin-to-skin truly connects a parent to their baby, creating a lifelong heart-to-heart bond.