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The Hormone of Love and More

February 2017

Below are summary statements on the use of skin-to-skin care (pp 85-86) from Kerstin Uvnas Moberg's book, Oxytocin: The Biological Guide to Motherhood (2015).

Four days after birth, mothers who were allowed both skin-to-skin contact with their newborns and breastfeeding communicated more with their babies during breastfeeding and spent more time with them as a sign of enhanced bonding than did mothers who only had skin-to-skin contact.  


  • In addition, they had lower gastrin levels as an expression of increased vagal nerve tone. In this way, digestive and metabolic processes were facilitated. The lower the gastrin levels the more time the mothers spent with their newborns, indicating an association between gastrin levels and bonding.
  • One year after birth, mothers and infants who had skin-to-skin contact after birth interacted more and in a more intuitive way than those separated after birth.
  • The infants who had skin-to-skin contact handled stress more efficiently than those who did not have skin-to-skin contact. Pulsing maternal breast skin temperature and high infant skin temperature during the first hours after birth predict the increase in social competence and stress buffering competence one year later.
  • Skin-to-skin contact may serve to decrease the stress of being born in infants and perhaps the stress of giving birth in mothers.
  • Oxytocin released during interaction between mother and infant postpartum and enhanced by skin-to-skin contact may have played an integrative role in the effects caused by skin-to-skin contact. Prolactin release may also be stimulated. The immediate effects may have turned into long-term effects by epigenetic mechanisms.
  • Kangaroo care and co-sleeping act in the same way as skin-to-skin contact. The activity of the oxytocinergic effect increases by closeness, which leads to positive effects on social interaction, stress levels, and growth.

Chapter 14, from which the above information is taken, goes into great detail on how each of these work on the maternal and infant physiology. All research is described, and the author makes comments on each.
If you do not own this book, put it on your Wish List; it is a must-have text!

Kathy Parkes, MSN-Ed, BSPsy, RN, IBCLC, RLC, FILCA
Professional Development Educator



Oxytocin: The Biological Guide to Motherhood (2015) by Kerstin Uvnas Moberg, MD, PhD.

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