Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kissing Matters: Trust Your Instincts

I just read a very interesting article published quite a while ago ( 2001 ) by Judie Rall. We have started to institute kangaroo care or skin-to skin contact in our labor and delivery room suites and protocols but I haven't heard anyone talk about just kissing their babies. Kissing isn't just for that emotional bonding that I talk about when I explain immediate postpartum bonding for the baby's purposes. I talk about that very important first developmental task that babies must achieve almost immediately. That's the engaging that baby must posture to convince their parents to feed him ( i.e. "keep" him ) so he doesn't wind-up outside the cave. Evolutionary and most necessary for survival of the fittest.

Well, it seems from the supposition in the kissing article that there are biochemical reasons for kissing our babies that continue to support that inner wisdom we all share as mothers. Moms claim their babies as their own by kissing them. Similar to the way other mammals do by licking their newborns immediately after birth. Sure it's meant to stimulate and clean their babies but also it introduces mom to all the sights and smells, tastes and feels and sounds that ensure we can recognize and claim our kids as our own. Built in baby lo-jack?? ( hospital identification systems )

When we allow immediate skin- to- skin or kangaroo care in the immediate post partum, while mom has yet to even expel the placenta, just like any other mammal, the mother ia able to expose her senses to that unique baby's behaviors, cries, smells. Continuing the bonding process by allowing the mother to kiss and "taste", caress and fondle, look, listen and smell her newborn, she attaches to him and narrows that distance that modern American moms grieve they feel, that may even increase the incidence of post partum depression.

Now, not just the emotional benefits are being recognized. The theory is that by kissing the baby, mother exposes herself to pathogens ( germs ) that are on the baby's face. These pathogens are up taken by mom's tonsils and memory B cells, in order to alert the mom's breasts to produce specific antibodies that their baby may uniquely require. Continuing the kissing conveys exactly what antibodies the mom needs to produce for the baby's immunity to environmental exposures.

So, we are recognizing, bonding, calming, pleasuring and producing the antibodies our babies may need to survive. Good to know that they won't wind-up "outside the cave". I remember licking my babies to ensure that there wasn't an abundance of salt on their skin that is an old "heads-up" for cystic fibrosis ( they still do a salt test for babies thought at risk for CF ). Now I know what else I was doing. Mother's instincts are right-on. Trust them.