New insight into skin-to-skin contact

By Healthy Children Project 

Healthy Children Project faculty members Kajsa Brimdyr and Karin Cadwell and colleagues from Sweden have published a new paper in Medical Hypotheses, available this month. The paper, titled “A Plausible Pathway of Imprinted Behaviors: Skin-to-skin Actions of the Newborn Immediately After Birth Follow the Order of Fetal Development and Intrauterine Training of Movements,” discusses whether the competence of a newborn in the first hours after birth is the direct result of behavior training that begins in the first 12 weeks of fetal life.

Kristin Svensson, Karin Cadwell, Ann-Marie Widström, Eva Nissen, and Kajsa Brimdyr are the authors of a new paper suggesting that the nine stages of a newborn’s skin-to-skin contact with the mother after birth reflect a linked development pattern of behaviors learned in utero.

The paper posits there is a link between the behavior that develops when newborn babies are placed skin-to-skin with their mother within the first hour or so after birth – Widström’s 9 Instinctive Stages – and the pattern of motor skills developed and practiced in utero, representing a pathway to ensure survival of the newborn and the mother.

With the nine stages – birth cry, relaxation, awakening, activity, rest, crawling, familiarization, suckling, and sleeping – practiced in utero in the same specific order, the authors conclude that the newborn has been training for and prepared for this experience immediately after birth to find the breast, to initiate breastfeeding, and to contribute to post-birth maternal uterine contractions which service to minimize blood loss and speed placental expulsion.

To read the entire paper, click here.

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