You’ll discover the most effective ways to prevent and beat cancer — from 131 of the world’s top experts — that you won’t hear about elsewhere.

Click Here for Exclusive Access!

The Incredible Healing Effect of Mother's Touch

Skin to skin contact between the mother and her new-born baby can have impressive healing and even life-saving effects for the infant. 

The human body is not just a dynamic sophisticated biochemical and genetic system; there are strong energetic, emotional and psychological aspects that interact decisively with the physical counterparts of the body and can make a very measurable difference in our physiological functions.

A valid proof of this comes from the neonatal Kangaroo care method (K method), which requires skin to skin contact between the mother and the newborn baby. While this simple intervention provides superior support for preterm, low-weight babies, in comparison to conventional practices, such as the use of incubator, it is rarely included in official hospital policies or recommended to mothers by mainstream experts.

Pediatricians have expressed fears that keeping a preterm baby outside of an incubator during the Kangaroo interaction, may expose the infant to cold with subsequent loss of body heat and lower body temperatures, which can be critical to the survival and wellbeing of weak babies. Research however shows that the exact opposite is happening during the K care method. A study involving low-weight preterm babies (less than 1.5 Kg) and their mothers, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that the body temperature of the newborn actually rises when the infant is skin to skin in touch with the mother's chest.

Perhaps the most remarkable story that was brought to the public's attention is the miraculous revival of premature baby boy Jamie Ogg, who, following his birth was pronounced dead by doctors after 20 minutes of resuscitation efforts. His mother put him on her chest and held him for 2 hours, when he suddenly started to gasp for air and was soon breathing normally.

Apart from such dramatic recoveries, clinicians have recorded impressive positive impact of the K method on a variety of physiological and behavioral parameters on newborns. For example, doctors from the Pediatric Department in New Delhi hospital in India conducted a randomized control trial of the effects of the Kangaroo mother care method. 28 mother and low birth-weight baby dyads (baby weight less than 1.5 Kg at the time of birth) were assigned either to the control group (incubator or standard open care) or the K group, where the mother kept the baby in touch with her skin for at least 4 hours per day in no more than 3 sittings. The authors concluded that:

Kangaroo mother care managed babies had better weight gain, earlier hospital discharge and, more impressively, higher exclusive breast-feeding rates. KMC is an excellent adjunct to the routine preterm care in a nursery.

Another study published in the "Pediatric Nursing" magazine found that when newborns received the Kangaroo mother care method, they slept more, were less agitated and exhibited fewer episodes of apnea and bradycardia. Comparing the Kangaroo care method with standard incubator care, a randomized control study published in the magazine "Annals of Tropical Pediatrics" found that the former is by far superior. Infants receiving the kangaroo care gained on average 20.8 grams per day, while the babies in incubator group gained less than half, with 10.2 grams per day. The mortality rate in the Kangaroo method was zero, while 9% of the babies in the incubator group died. Finally, the Kangaroo mother care group, had a significantly shorter stay in hospital, 16.6 vs. 20.7 days for the incubator group.

The available evidence shows that simple skin to skin touch with the mother can have a profound healing effect for sick or premature babies. The Kangaroo mother care method is a non-invasive and very efficient way of restoring vital physiological functions, while strengthening the bond between the mother and her newborn child.


Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

The Incredible Healing Effect of a Mother's Touch

Eleni, good article. Kangaroo care has been practiced for a long time, although often not suggested.  I've read it also affects breathing and heart rate positively as well! There are also some NICU's/parents that allow volunteers to come in and do this.

Unfortunately, NICU's are not all practicing the simplest medical care to give these little lives the best possible outcome - life.  However, your information will educate parents to request Kangaroo Care.

Thank you

Thank you for your comment. I had never heard of the Kangaroo method and was very delighted to discover it! It must have positive effects in many physiological parameters, perhaps, more than we can measure reliably at this moment. The difference between life and death involves more aspects than breathing, body temperature, oxygen intake etc. I think this is just the result. In any case, I think it is fascinating to bring to public awareness such incredible and simple methods. Again many thanks for your positive comment.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to write a comment

You’ll discover the most effective ways to prevent and beat cancer — from 131 of the world’s top experts — that you won’t hear about elsewhere.

Click Here for Exclusive Access!

This website is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.

© Copyright 2008-2017, Journal Articles copyright of original owners, MeSH copyright NLM.