Skin to Skin Contact After Birth

Mom and Baby
The first hours after birth are a very important time for bonding. Immediately following birth, there is a large surge of hormones that make you and your baby feel alert, ready to bond, and prepared to initiate breastfeeding. During the first moments after birth there are also a lot of important changes that a baby needs to make in order to adapt to life outside of the womb. Skin to Skin contact immediately following birth and for the first several hours after birth can help facilitate this very important bonding time and also ease the transition from life inside the womb to life outside of the womb.

If there are no complications during your labor and birth, the midwife or physician will place the infant directly on your chest and abdomen. The nurses will dry and clean the baby while the baby is on your chest. The nurses also monitor to make sure that the baby is starting to breathe without any issues. If needed, the baby can be transported to a warmer in the room where oxygen can be given or the baby can be evaluated by a neonatologist. If there are no issues, your baby will be placed directly on your skin and the two of you will be covered with a blanket.

Research has shown that babies who are Skin to Skin with their mothers after birth are better able to regulate their heartbeats, temperature, and breathing rates. While the baby is Skin to Skin with you, the baby’s temperature is regulated by your body. A mother’s body will adjust its temperature to meet the needs of the newborn. When babies are Skin to Skin with their mothers, there is a decrease in stress hormones for both mother and baby. The baby already knows the voice of its mother and her scent, and being close to its mother helps comfort the new infant. When babies are placed Skin to Skin, they are also better able to find their way to the nipple to initiate breastfeeding.

Skin to Skin is beneficial at any time. If there are issues during your birth or if you need to have a cesarean section, the baby will be brought to you as soon as possible for you to have time for Skin to Skin contact. Even once you leave the hospital, Skin to Skin contact is the best way to help comfort an infant and partners as well as new mothers can spend time with the baby Skin to Skin.