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The Neuroscience behind the skin-to-skin imperative

by Dr. Nils Bergman, MB ChB, MPH, MD
  • Duration: 540 Mins
  • Credits: 0.75 CERP, 0.75 R-CERP
  • Learning Format: Webinar
  • Handout: Yes
  • Origin: ABM Conference 2016

The underlying science to all biology is that genes make brains and bodies, and brains make those bodies behave to accomplish ‘reproductive fitness’. Recent advances have shown that the ENVIRONMENT influences the genes through epigenetic processes, and fires and wires brain circuits, and also determines highly conserved behaviors necessary for fitness. Human reproductive fitness begins with birth and breastfeeding, and the necessary environment is maternal-infant SKIN-TO-SKIN CONTACT (SSC). Essential steps are described, transition to extrauterine life, maternal regulation, biological roots of bonding, breastfeeding as an integrated behavior with sleep, with early maternal sensitization and later attuned parenting. The opposite of SSC is SEPARATION, leading to toxic stress with a number of mal-adaptions that may remain for life. The most significant relate to emotional and social intelligence, and failures in breastfeeding. The ecobiodevelopmental model captures this accurately, but must be applied at birth to accomplish fitness for early childhood development.

Learning Objectives:

Objective 1: Recognize the fundamental role of skin-to-skin contact for neonatal well being.
Objective 2: Support early suckling for successful breastfeeding
Objective 3: Motivate for change hospital policies that prevent mother infant togetherness immediately after birth.