Guest post by Noor Al-Alami, RN, MSN, RNC-OB, LEC
Topic #1: Skin-to-Skin Bonding
Do you know the benefits of skin-to-skin bonding?
Here are six reasons to enjoy skin-to-skin bonding after birth and beyond:
1. infant body temperature regulation
2. infant blood sugar stabilization
3. stimulates baby’s digestion and interest in feeding
4. calms nervous systems & reduces cortisol levels (lowers stress)
5. regulates baby’s breathing and heart rate, aiding in the transition to life outside the womb
6. enables colonization of the baby’s skin with mother’s friendly bacteria, providing protection against infection
Did you also know that newborns do not realize that they are a separate person from their mom?
After birth, mother and baby are not separate. They remain a part of each other as their bodies remain co-dependent in many ways. This is why mother and baby bonding is so crucial in the first weeks of life.
The exchange of hormones between mother and baby during bonding not only aids in breastmilk production and ejection but also the hormones that are responsible for turning on mothering instincts.
What is even more interesting?
In a study recently published in the journal NeuroImage, researchers at University of Cambridge found that mothers and babies’ brain waves synchronize during positive interactions. (Santamaria, 2019).
“Mothers’ and babies’ brains can work together as a ‘mega-network’ by synchronizing brain waves when they interact. The level of connectivity of the brain waves varies according to the mom’s emotional state: when mothers express more positive emotions their brain becomes much more strongly connected with their baby’s brain. This may help the baby to learn and its brain to develop” (University of Cambridge, 2019).
Loving interactions filled with eye contact, touch, and a nurturing tone enhance mom and baby’s ability to share vital information back and forth.
Their study also found that when a mother is happy, the neural connectivity is stronger and better supports her baby's healthy development.
Skin-to-skin contact is one of the simplest and most effective ways to strengthen the connection between mother and baby.
Topic #2: Breastfeeding Facts
Did you know?
There are 10,000-13,000 immune cells per milliliter of breastmilk.
Breastfeeding burns about 500-700 calories a day.
According to a research study conducted at the university of California Davis, Mothers who breastfeed for more than a year cut their risk of breast cancer by 26%. One reason may be that when a woman is breastfeeding, she experiences hormonal changes that may delay the return of her menstrual periods. This reduces her lifetime exposure to hormones such as estrogen, which are linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers (Hoyt-Austin et al., 2020).
Breastfed infants have a lower risk for ear infection and a lower risk for cancer, obesity and diabetes.
Each one of your nipples has 4 to 20 openings for milk to flow.
The average newborn nurses 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period.
Topic #3: Maternal-Fetal Microchimerism
Did you know?
During pregnancy, cells from the fetus migrate through the mother’s bloodstream and then return to the baby. This is called maternal-fetal microchimerism. For the entire length of the pregnancy, these cells circulate and fuse together. After the baby is born, many of these cells remain in the mother’s body, leaving a permanent imprint in the mother’s tissues, bones, brain, and skin, where they often remain for decades. Each child thereafter will leave a similar imprint.
Studies have shown cells from a fetus remain in a mother’s brain 18 years after giving birth!
Research has even shown that if a mother’s heart is injured, fetal cells rush to the site of injury and transform different types of cells that specialize in heart repair. So essentially, the baby helps to repair the mother while the mother grows the baby.
Topic #4: Amniotic Fluid
Did you know?
Amniotic fluid, the fluid surrounding baby within the amniotic sac, is generated from maternal plasma and fetal urine.
Only approximately 15% of mothers experience their water breaking before true labor begins.
In early pregnancy, amniotic fluid is mainly water with electrolytes, but by the 12–14th week the liquid also contains proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, phospholipids, and urea, all of which aid in the growth of the fetus.
Recent studies show that amniotic fluid contains a considerable quantity of stem cells. These amniotic stem cells are “pluripotent”, meaning they are able to differentiate into various tissues that may be useful for future human application.
Some researchers have found that amniotic fluid is also a plentiful source of non-embryonic stem cells.These cells have demonstrated the ability to differentiate into a number of different cell-types, including brain, liver, and bone.
I’ve been a labor and delivery nurse for the past 7 years and have attended over 1600 births. I’ve worked at three top hospitals including Cedar Sinai in Beverly Hills, Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, and Scripps hospital, La Jolla. I am a RNC-OB, registered nurse certified in obstetrics as well as a lactation education counselor. I’ve taught labor and delivery at the university level and find teaching very rewarding. Education is at the heart of women’s empowerment.
At Rising Lotus Birth, I provide support to pregnant women throughout all phases of care including prenatal visits, birth doula services, and postpartum visits. You may be wondering why I became a doula while still practicing in the hospital setting. My explanation is always that over the years I’ve noticed an overwhelming need for more patient advocacy, education, and birth support in the hospital setting. My goal is to achieve better birth outcomes and make birth trauma a thing of the past! Birth is my passion. My goal is to help my patients and clients achieve a better birth and postpartum experience!
Follow Noor on Instagram @labornurse.doula to learn more.
Hoyt-Austin et al. (2020). Awareness that Breastfeeding Reduces Breast Cancer Risk: 2015–2017 National Survey of Family Growth. Obstetrics & Gynecology. https://health.ucdavis.edu/news/headlines/does-breastfeeding-lower-mothers-breast-cancer-risk/2020/11
Mothers’ and babies’ brains ‘more in tune’ when mother is happy. University of Cambridge (2019). https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/mothers-and-babies-brains-more-in-tune-when-mother-is-happy
Santamaria, L. et al: Emotional valence modulates the topology of the parent-infant inter-brain network. Neuroimage (2019). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811919309322