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More mother-newborn skin contact advised.

More Mother-Newborn Skin Contact Advised

ROME, ITALY: In Western society, childbirth has become technical and artificial Home delivery has been replaced by hospital delivery, midwives by medical doctors, and the mother's breast by a bottle. However, research by Susanna Maiello, of the Institute of Psychology, University of Rome, suggests that more attention should be paid to the intrinsic meanings of the birth event, especially the symbiosis between mother and child.

Responding to the Fifth International Congress of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, she noted that research over the last few years has shown the crucial importance for mother and child of the quality of the delivery and the immediate period after birth. Dr. Maiello has ascertained that the newborn is much more sensitive to its surroundings than previously supposed.

"Nonetheless," she said, "These findings have not always brought about the necessary adaptation in the routine of childbirth assistance. In Italy, immediate separation of the newborn from the mother is still current practice. Reunion often occurs as late as 24 hours after birth."

In her own research, Maiello had newly born children separated from their mothers and put naked on heating equipment during the first hour of their life. At first the infants were left by themselves; later they were lightly supported and stroked. When left alone, the babies intermittently cried, showing muscular tension, jerky movements of arms and legs, and attempts (mostly unsuccessful) to suck their fingers. When the same babies were supported and stroked, their crying stopped, they showed relief of muscular tension with a tendency to gather in the fetal position, and were more successful in finding thumb or fingers to suck and in falling asleep or maintaining a quiet state of alertness.

According to Maiello, this sort of contact "can best be provided by the mother herself. This procedure would have the advantages of satisfying the child's early expressed needs, of stimulating maternal behavior on a concrete bodily level, and increasing the probability of successful breast feeding."
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jun 22, 1989
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