Mothers Can Sooth Baby’s Pain Better than Fathers

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In a study involving premature infants who were being drawn of blood, it was shown that mothers were able to comfort the infants better compared to the dads. According to an outside researcher, the differences are just small, and among other findings, the most important observation is that infants who were held by either parent were able to manage the heel-prick method better than those who were not with their parents, or held by other health care providers.

This study also part of the research on the effects of Kangaroo care on the babies’ pain management. Kangaroo care involves the skin to skin contact between the parent and the child, more specifically against the chest of either parent, with only a sheet or blanket covering the pair.

According to Dr. Larry Gray, a pediatrician of the Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago, there is a big difference between babies who gets blood withdrawal alone in an incubator, compared to those babies who are being held by their moms or dads. Prior to this study, there are also earlier researches which underscore a number of positive health benefits for the baby who are subjected to skin to skin contact with parents, which also include pain relief. This is also significant especially for preemies who require more extensive medical attention than those full term babies. Dr. Gray further stated that the Kangaroo care provides “warmth, breathing regulation, and all those hidden things.”

In their study, the researchers videotaped the facial responses of the babies before, during and after the blood samples were drawn. The videoclips were analyzed with the help of facial expressions like grimacing, squeezing of the eyes, crying and frowns. A pain scale was also used rating the perceived pain level from 0-21. On the other hand, painscale was also measured with the comfort of the dads. When measured without kangaroo care provided by either parents, the pain scale were averaging between 11 to 13.

The pain scale was about 8.5 to 8.6 in 30 seconds and a minute after the blood drawing. When held by their moms, the pain scale was measured to be lower than the ratings measured with fathers, by 1.4 to 1.5 points during the 30 second period, but the pains scale recorded in the succeeding minute was not different in both parents. The researchers said that this might be due to the experience and knowledge of mothers in performing kangaroo care than the fathers.

“This supports the hypothesis that there is something unique about the comfort of a mother’s contact over and above that of another caring adult. The difference in the male physique, especially the chest, may be perceived by the infant to be not that of a natural caregiver,” said the researchers in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

The researchers also noted that both moms and dads reported to have felt positively upon doing kangaroo care and said that they would not hesitate to do it again. However, they had a bit anxiety in handling such a small and vulnerable baby.




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