Babies and the importance of physical contact

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Marie-Ange Demory
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«Being a mother means build a relationship with your child and the best way to do it, especially in the first months of life, is through a gesture that is as simple as it is fundamental: the physical contact". The doctor is convinced of this Marangione, head of the Neonatology and Neonatal Pathology operating unit of the Humanitas San Pio X hospital in Milan, to whom we asked how much this aspect can positively affect the growth of a newborn.

"The physical contact it is so important that today, unlike a few years ago, the newborn baby is placed on the mother's belly because it has been shown that both get a enormous benefit».

Contact restored

Childbirth is an experience that involves great stress for both the baby and the mother, who is also burdened by an emotional load linked to the worries of a long wait. For this reason nature has made sure that after pain comes peace and well-being. In the new protocols of natural births, but also of some caesareans, the newborn baby is simply dried, wrapped in a warm towel and, even before the pediatric visit, lying on the mother.

This practice, called "skin to skin"(Skin and skin), lasts approx two hours and allows you to restore contact between mother and child. "The registered benefits are many both physical and relational. The presence of the child, in fact, causes the woman to release oxytocin, the so-called "love hormone", With a consequent feeling of peace and contentment that accentuates the serenity of finally being able to hold your baby to your chest".

Obviously, the newly restored contact also benefits from the newborn who, through touch and smell, gets to know his mother for the first time. From being able to keep blood sugar low, to controlling temperature and heart rate are there are many benefits that the baby derives simply by lying on the mother's body.

Breastfeeding, physical contact par excellence

When the baby is in this position a little magic happens. «After some time that he is on the tummy of the mother, the newborn begins one slow migration to the breast". The phenomenon is explained by the fact that in the mammary areolas there are glands that give off a smell similar to amniotic fluid that attract the attention of the baby who for the first time goes to the source of nourishment. This event stimulates the production of colostrum in women, the first post-partum milk, with the consequence that among the benefits of the "skin to skin" there is precisely the increase in the possibility of exclusive breastfeeding. "Breast milk - explains the doctor - represents the highest nutritional level and allows the mother through breastfeeding to build a very important daily relationship with the baby".


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Not only the mother but also the father

In the early stages of a child's life, an addictive relationship with the mother is inevitable. Even in these months, however, the father can carve out important moments of "contact" with the child. The doctor recommends the very effective practice of containment. “Especially when mothers are tired, hold the baby in your arms. The little one, in addition to starting to establish a physical relationship with his father, will benefit greatly because with this slight pressure he will feel as safe as he was inside the womb ».

Infant massage

Infant massage is certainly one of the most recommended practices by the neonatologist who exploit the beneficial effects of physical contact. «Through a course with specialized nurses, mothers can learn to establish an extraordinary relationship with the child through massages on the child's body". In this way it is possible to influence the well-being of the newborn, also managing to remedy the much feared cries of colic.


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