MADISON (WKOW) -- St. Mary's Hospital in Madison will track important information about its smallest patients this upcoming week. It, like a lot of hospitals, has a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, and hospital staff is trying to determine how much time parents are spending doing skin-to-skin contact with their babies.
Skin-to-skin contact is sometimes called "Kangaroo Care," so St.Mary's is holding a Kangaroo Care-a-Thon May 7-14 where it will track the number of minutes families participate in skin-to-skin time. Part of the effort is to increase the time parents are spending with their babies, as well as to promote an upcoming March of Dimes Walk for Babies.
Jamie Buttner, the nurse overseeing the project, says skin-to-skin contact should happen immediately after a baby is born, if possible. This type of contact is especially beneficial for premature babies, but can benefit all babies. It has shown to accelerate brain development, reduce stress and pain, synchronize the heart rate and breathing, regulate body temperature, enhance the immune system, improve the quality of sleep, stimulate digestion and weight gain and encourage breastfeeding behavior.
Buttner says it also benefits mom and dad. Not only can it help with bonding, but skin-to-skin contact can reduce a mother's risk for post-partum depression by restoring pre-pregnancy hormone levels, speed recovery time by increasing levels of oxytocin, reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, and reduce bleeding. It can also promote psychological well-being and increase milk production.