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Your question:

Can I have skin-to-skin contact with my premature or ill baby?

Expert’s answer:

Touching your baby and holding them safely in skin to skin contact are all ways to help you connect with your baby. You can use the ‘comfort hold’ or / and hold your baby in skin to skin contact also known as ‘kangaroo care’.

What is the comfort hold

At first you might not be able to hold your premature or ill baby. But touch from you, your baby’s parents, is very important. You can use the ‘comfort hold’ to connect with your baby. Your baby’s nurse or midwife will support and assist you to hold your baby. Wash your hands carefully. To use the comfort hold, place one hand on your baby’s head and the other hand on your baby’s feet. You may also like to gently hold your baby’s hand and touch your baby’s feet.

Kangaroo Care

Kangaroo care means holding your baby against your chest with your baby’s bare skin next to your bare skin. One way to do this is to hold your baby under your shirt. During kangaroo care, your baby is warm against your skin, and you can cover their backs with a blanket to keep them snug.

Kangaroo care helps to:
  • Increase your levels of oxytocin, the milk releasing hormone
  • Stimulate your milk production, and
  • Develop your baby’s feeding and sucking instincts

All babies benefit from the close contact, relaxation and warmth of kangaroo care. For the most benefit, hold your baby like this for at least an hour. This lets your baby go through a full sleep cycle while having skin to skin contact. Mum and dad can both do kangaroo care, so you and your partner can take it in turns. If your baby isn’t able for skin to skin contact right now, other touch from you, his parents, is really important like gently holding hands or cuddling your baby’s feet.

How to do kangaroo care:
  • Plan a suitable time to have your baby with you for kangaroo care. Discuss this with your baby’s nurse or midwife
  • Wear a shirt that opens at the front or a loose t-shirt. This lets you tuck your baby up inside your top
  • Wash your hands carefully
  • Greet and touch your baby to let them know you are there
  • Lean into the incubator. Cup one hand under your baby’s head and your other hand around the baby’s hips
  • Gently lift the baby onto your chest under your shirt. Rest their head against your chestbone. Support their back and bottom with your hands
  • Ask your nurse to check your position. A mirror is helpful so you can see your baby’s face
  • If you are using a blanket, wrap it around your baby. The top of the blanket should be just below your baby’s ear
  • Gently lower yourself into a chair. If you need help, ask your nurse or partner to guide you.

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