Skin-to-Skin Care and the Touch of God.
By Rev. Dr. Teresa Allissa Citro
Founder and President of Thread of Hope, Inc.
Justin, my son, was born 2.5 months premature. Weighing in at 4lb 11oz and going down to 4lb 2oz. He was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for 6 long weeks.
Let me just pause and give some medical information so that you can understand where I’m going. Babies are fully developed by 32-33 weeks. Justin was born with hair on his body, typical of babies born before 32 weeks. He was a preemie. This baby hair is called lanugo. It’s a very fine hair that disappears after 32 weeks. Justin still had his. Lanugo hair protects a baby’s skin from amniotic fluid that constantly touches the skin.
In addition, and typical of preemies, his lungs were not fully developed. He needed help breathing. Keeping him warm was another major concern. He needed to stay in an incubator, but the greatest concern was trying to teach him how to eat. Babies born this early have major problems learning how to eat. It took Justin 6 weeks before he learned how to take his bottle. This kept him in the NICU.
I explained all this so you would understand the importance of skin-to-skin care. Another term for skin-to-skin care is called kangaroo care. This is what I had to do with Justin. Every day they took his clothes off, left only his diaper and I changed into a hospital gurney. He laid on my chest, skin-to-skin. Immediately, you could see his heart rate drop way down, becoming normal. Keeping his heart rate and breathing normal was extremely important. Also keeping him warm by body heat was just as important.
By implementing skin-to-skin care, it resulted in Justin relaxing, and this made him fall into a much deeper sleep, thus giving him the much-needed strength for him to have the energy to drink his milk. Drinking more milk helped him to gain the weight that he needed to come home, and the overall objective was to get and keep him healthy and leaving the hospital.
Having a medical background can be a dangerous thing. I knew too much information. I was scared to death and worried sick seeing all those tubes attached to his tiny, tiny body. But the moment he was on me, Justin calmed down. It was immediate. I prayed hard as you c