Study Shows: Seperation from Mother Stresses Newborn Babies
When a new baby is born it is common practice, especially in western cultures, for the doctor or nurse to swaddle them in a blanket and place them in a bassinet as soon as the cord is cut. "Mother needs her rest!" they say and off they go to that surreal display of babies behind a glass window, arranged in rows, side by side in their identical clear plastic bassinets.
Most of never even consider that there is another option - but is this REALLY the best thing for the baby?
The results of a new study suggest it's not. In fact, when you really start to think about the practice, it's difficult to understand why it ever began in the first place.
For one, we are the only mammals that separate mothers and infants. For another, infant/mother separation is a common laboratory practice to induce stress in animals being studied for stress's harmful effect! Scientists know full well that it is harmful in animals - but what about us humans in particular?
For one hour two groups of two day old infants were monitored. The first group had direct skin-to-skin contact with their mother. The second group were laying alone in their bassinet. Compared with those infants that had their mother, the infants laying alone had autonomic activity (controlling their heart rate and respiration rate among other things) that was 176% higher and had 86% less quiet sleep.
"This paper highlights the profound impact of maternal separation on the infant. We knew that this was stressful, but the current study suggests that this is major physiologic stressor for the infant."says editor of Biological Psychiatry, Dr. John Krystal.
While more research is necessary to determine what long-term effects very early mother/infant separation might cause, the benefits of skin-to-skin contact is already well known.
Said study author, Dr. Barak Morgan, "Skin-to-skin contact with mother removes this contradiction, and our results are a first step towards understanding exactly why babies do better when nursed in skin-to-skin contact with mother, compared to incubator care,"