The Importance of Skin to Skin with Baby
During your pregnancy, you have satisfied all of your baby’s needs. Your baby has been fed, protected, and kept warm by your body. Snuggling your baby skin to skin is a gentle way to transition your newborn from the protected womb to the outside world.
A recent study divided new moms into two groups. One group had skin to skin contact with their babies immediately after birth. The other group’s babies were examined by doctors, then brought back to the mother in blankets. The babies in the first group learned to breastfeed more quickly.
Ideally, babies will be placed on their mother’s chest immediately after birth for at least the first hour of life. The benefits of skin to skin continue through the newborn period and beyond. If you happen to be separated from your baby at birth, start skin to skin as soon as you can.
Dress your baby in a diaper only and place him against your bare chest. Cover your baby with a warm blanket or wrap your shirt or bathrobe around both of you.
If you are in hospital, try putting the hospital gown on backwards, tying the bottom edges together in a knot to support your baby’s bottom.
Advantages of skin to skin for baby
- will be more content and will cry less
- will have a more stable body temperature
- will have a more regular heart and breathing rate
- will have a more stable blood sugar
- will have better tolerance for painful procedures such as blood tests (when snuggled skin to skin with a parent)
- will find it easier to latch to the breast
Babies that have been held skin-to-skin are more likely to breastfeed exclusively and longer. Premature babies will gain weight more readily.
Advantages of skin-to-skin for mother
- easier to know when her baby is hungry
- easier to help her baby latch to the breast
- easier way to wake a sleepy baby
- easier to soothe a fussy baby skin-to-skin
- higher production of the hormone prolactin, helping her body to make more milk
- enhances bonding with baby
Dr. Nils Bergman, a physician and researcher, is passionate about the benefits of skin-to-skin. He explains the amazing benefits in this video.
** Even if you do not plan to breastfeed, consider doing at least some of the feedings skin to skin. Both you and your baby will benefit.
References and More Information:
- “Dr. Nils Bergman on the Social & Emotional Intelligence of Infants.” YouTube. KidCareCanada, 14 Oct. 2010. Web.
- Moore, E. R. and G. C. Anderson. “Randomized controlled trial of very early mother-infant skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding status.” Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, Mar-Apr 2007: 116-25.
- Moore, E. R., G. C. Anderson, N. Bergman, and T. Dowswell. “Cochrane.” Early Skin-to-skin Contact for Mothers and Their Healthy Newborn Infants.” Cochrane Library, 16 May 2012. Web.
- Newman, Jack, MD, FRCPC, and Edith Kernerman, IBCLC. “The Importance of Skin to Skin Contact.” nbci.ca. International Breastfeeding Centre, 2009. Web.
- “Skin-to-Skin Contact.” lllc.ca, La Leche League Canada,N.d. Web.
- “The First Feeding.”HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 21 Nov. 2015. Web.
Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.
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