“In an interview with Oprah Winfrey set to air Dec. 8, actress Gabrielle Union and her husband, NBA star Dwyane Wade, shared how hurt they were when, after the birth of their daughter in November, commenters online ridiculed Union for posting photos of herself practicing what’s known as skin-to-skin contact, or kangaroo care.
The set of two photos, which she shared on Instagram on Nov. 8, show Union and Wade holding their baby, Kaavia James, who was carried by a surrogate.
“I think for me the most hurtful thing was once we had our baby and everybody started talking about ‘Why is she in the bed holding the baby? Why she got a gown on? Why she acting like she just had a baby?’” said Wade. “And once again, people are uneducated on the process and why we decided to go skin to skin as soon as our baby came out.”
In skin-to-skin contact, parents hold their naked baby to their chest against their bare skin. Research shows that this kind of embrace soon after birth helps calm and soothe the baby; regulate the infant’s temperature, heart rate and breathing; improve the blood glucose levels in newborns; and lower pain levels in babies. It can also help babies sleep better and give parents and child a chance to bond emotionally. And those benefits are especially crucial for babies born prematurely.”
Shannon M. Clark, MD, MMS is a double board certified ObGyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, and founder of Babies After 35. In her roles as a clinician, educator and researcher at UTMB-Galveston, she focuses on the care of people with maternal and/or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark has taken a special interest in pregnancy after the age of 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy.
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