Make Skin-to-Skin Contact with Your Newborn

Skin-to-skin contact is becoming a popular and important part of the immediate post-delivery experience. Skin-to-skin contact refers to the idea that the newborn baby and mom are immediately together, with the baby naked and resting on mom’s naked chest. Some medical studies show that the baby is happy this way, with a more stable temperature, heart rate, and breathing.

There are additional benefits as well. The close skin contact allows the baby to be colonized with mom’s natural bacteria, and this, combined with breast-feeding, may be vital in reducing the risks of some allergic diseases. Interestingly, babies who are placed skin-to-skin with the mother right after delivery for about an hour are more likely to latch on to the mother’s nipple to breast-feed, and to latch on more effectively.

Usually immediately after the delivery, the baby is dried off and then placed on mom’s chest or belly. Often there is a brief interruption of skin-to-skin contact when the usual eye drops and vitamin K injections are given. Of course, this depends on the hospital; each hospital may have different routines.

Even preterm or very small babies can benefit from skin-to-skin contact. In the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), this is commonly referred to as Kangaroo care. Assuming the baby is otherwise stable, Kangaroo care involves holding the diapered baby in between mom’s breasts (or on dad’s chest), with a blanket draped over the baby’s back for extra warmth. Benefits include better control over the baby’s temperature, regulated heart rate and breathing, improved weight gain, spending more time in deep sleep and less time crying, and increased chance of successful breast-feeding.

Skin-to-skin contact and Kangaroo care may have benefits for moms, too. There may be less postpartum depression, and increased milk production, emotional well-being, and confidence in taking care of the new arrival!

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