Skin-To-Skin Contact Proves Beneficial, But Claims For Preventing Postpartum Depression are Dubious

Over the years much research has been devoted to STS, or skin-to-skin contact, between mother and infant following the baby’s birth. But a new report suggests this technique may have benefits in preventing postpartum depression (PPD).

While I understand that new mothers and members of the medical community are desperate to find a way to curb the debilitating illness of PPD, I believe it’s a far reach to include STS among its remedies.

At the same time, I do consider it important to implement STS for bonding, which is the practice of placing a newborn infant directly on his or her mother’s chest immediately after birth. In  some 30 studies involving nearly 2,000 mother-baby pairs, results show that STS offers multiple other positive effects, including increases in the likelihood the mother will breastfeed, which leads to more physical contact between the mother and her baby over the important first weeks.

This contact has also shown to reduce newborn crying and to improve heart and  respiratory rates, as well as help with maintenance of body temperature, which is especially crucial for premature infants.

I’ve talked earlier about cases where the father appears to have episodes of postpartum depression. Dads enter the picture in this study, too, but in a positive way. Researchers pose the query: what happens if a mother, due to C-section or other causes, can’t hold her baby skin-to-skin?

Enter Dad, in research where half of the infants were placed directly on their father’s chest after birth, and half were placed in a bassinet next to their father, the infants in the skin-to-skin group cried less, became calmer, and reached a drowsy state earlier than the infants in the bassinet group. Researchers concluded that when mother-to-infant skin-to-skin contact may not be possible, the same contact with the father also benefits the newborn infant.

So, we can all agree that STS has multiple benefits for a newborn. Although, its use in preventing postpartum depression in the mom seems like quite a stretch.



~ by ppdsus on July 2, 2013.

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