The Benefits of Skin to Skin Contact with your Baby
Skin to skin contact between you and your baby is a wonderful opportunity for ALL mothers to hold their baby close. Skin to skin contact after your baby’s birth (or as soon as possible) has many benefits for the health and well being of you both.
Why is skin to skin contact important?
- It keeps your baby warm
- It helps to calm you and your baby
- It promotes bonding between you and your baby
- It regulates baby’s breathing and heart rate
- It promotes early feeding
- It stimulates the hormones needed to produce breast milk
- It provides mum and baby with an opportunity to get to know each other
- You and your baby will benefit from “skin to skin” contact whatever your chosen method of feeding
How to do Skin Contact
You do not need to worry about what you are wearing; your baby can be tucked down the front of your night-dress or tee shirt.
If mum is not able to have skin to skin contact with her baby, then dads may like to have the opportunity to. This will have the same calming effect and keep your baby warm.
Feeding Your Baby
Not all babies want to feed immediately after birth, but having your baby in close skin to skin contact will help them to prepare for a feed. Initially, your baby may be happy just being close to you, listening to your heartbeat and the sound of your voice. Your baby will show signs when he/she is ready to feed, this instinctive behaviour will include opening his/ her eyes and mouth, salivating, licking, rooting and moving their head from side to side. Your baby will use these “feeding cues” to let you know when they are hungry.
Sometimes it may be necessary for the midwife or doctor to interrupt your skin to skin contact because you or your baby requires attention.
They will offer you the opportunity to resume skin to skin as soon as it is possible. Dads can enjoy skin to skin contact with their baby’s too, this will help to keep your baby warm and relaxed until mum is ready to feed.
- 1Anderson, G.C., Moore, E., Hepworth, J., Bergman, N. (2003) Early skin to skin contact for mothers and their healthy new born infants (Cochrane Review). The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2
- Carfoot, S. Williamson, P., Dickson, R. (2005) A randomised controlled trial in the north of England examining the effects of skin to skin care on breast feeding. Midwifery, 21 (1), 71-79
- Christennsson, K. et al (1992) Temperature, metabolic adaptation and crying in healthy full term new borns cared for