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FOR RELEASE: July 24 , 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Skin-to-Skin: A Natural Way of Caring for Babies
World Breastfeeding Week is August 1 – 7

To recognize the importance of skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their newborns, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is promoting World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7 with the theme “Hold me, Feed me, Love me.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend that newborns should be placed skin-to-skin with their mothers immediately after delivery. Skin-to-skin is when babies are placed belly-down, directly on their mother’s chest after birth. Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), or skin-to-skin, is an effective way to meet baby’s needs for warmth, breastfeeding, stimulation, safety, protection from infection, and love.

Some of the many benefits for mothers and babies when early skin-to-skin contact is initiated include:

  • It encourages early initiation of breastfeeding.
  • It helps moms to breastfeed longer and be more successful with breastfeeding.
  • It helps mothers and babies bond with one another.
  • Babies stay warm.
  • Babies cry less.
  • Babies have more stable blood sugars.
  • Babies have more stable breathing rates.

“Oklahoma has room for improvement when it comes to breastfeeding,” said OSDH Breastfeeding Coordinator Rosanne Smith. “Only 66.7 percent of Oklahoma mothers initiate breastfeeding, which falls short of the Healthy People 2010 goal of a 75 percent breastfeeding initiation rate.”

Oklahoma is also behind when it comes to the length of time that women breastfeed their children. An average of 25.8 percent of Oklahoma women are breastfeeding at six months and only 11.8 percent are breastfeeding at 12 months post-partum, which is below the Healthy People 2010 goals of 50 percent breastfeeding at 6 months, and 25 percent breastfeeding at 12 months, respectively.

“We see skin-to-skin contact as another way to help improve Oklahoma’s breastfeeding rates and improve the health of babies,” said Smith.

Whether a woman has her baby in a hospital, at a birthing center, or at home, research shows that it is best for her to be with her baby as much as possible. Nurses, in collaboration with other health professionals, are in a unique position to adjust practices and policies to allow for skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, thereby improving the birth experience for both parents and newborns.

During World Breastfeeding Week, county health departments across the state will host various festivities to promote the “Hold me, Feed me, Love me” theme. For more information about skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding, contact the county health department in your area or call the statewide WIC nutrition line at 1-888-655-2942, extension 11258.

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