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Skin-to-Skin

Monique was able to hold her son, skin-to-skin just after birth. Read Monique's story.

Skin to Skin Care

Skin to Skin has been tested with both premature and full-term infants since 1983, and over 400 studies have been conducted. When you do Skin to Skin, your baby hears your heartbeat, is gently rocked by your breathing, recognizes your scent, is warmed by your body, and is held snuggly up against you. Babies held skin to skin on their mother’s chest right after birth:

  • Are happier, calmer & less stressed
  • Rarely cry
  • Stabilize their heart rates quicker
  • Stay warm
  • Sleep more
  • Have normal blood sugars
  • Lose little birth weight
  • Latch on & feed well
  • Gain weight faster
  • Have better brain development

Skin to Skin care has become the national standard for healthy, full-term infant care at birth. It is now recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Heart Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, among others.

What will happen when my baby is born?

Your new baby will be placed on a warm blanket on your tummy and dried off. The nurse will give him or her a hat and diaper, and then he or she will be placed against you, chest to chest. A warm blanket will cover you and your baby’s back. Your baby will stay in contact with you for at least one hour after birth or until your baby finishes his or her first feeding. Your baby will be closely monitored, and as long as he or she is stable, all interventions such as medications, assessments, bathing, and height and weight will be on hold until at least one hour after birth.

When can my family and friends see my new baby?

These first hours after birth are a very special time for your new family. It is a once in a lifetime experience for you, your partner, and your baby. At our hospital we do not allow visitors, aside from those attending the birth, inside the delivery room in these first two hours after birth, so that you may have the uninterrupted privacy that your baby needs to see you, feel you, smell you, and bond with you. Also, your baby will want to experience his first feeding during this time. You should tell family members and friends about Skin to Skin ahead of time so they understand the importance of your private, one-on-one time with your baby following birth.

What will my baby do during Skin to Skin?

At first, your baby will be awake and quiet and looking at you. He or she will be listening to your heartbeat, feeling your skin, and instinctively looking for your breast. After the first feeding, your baby will be calmed by the familiar environment and will usually go into a deep sleep within minutes.

Can Dads do Skin to Skin?

Yes! Your baby’s Dad, or anyone else you designate, can do Skin to Skin, too. While you are in the hospital, usually only mothers and fathers provide Skin to Skin and others do so after the infant is discharged. However, during the first few hours after birth, only the mother should be doing Skin to Skin so that your baby receives all of the biological benefits.

What if I am having a Cesarean section? Can I still do Skin to Skin?

Absolutely! When your baby is born, he or she will be evaluated by a nurse or pediatrician. If your baby is stable, he or she will be handed to your partner. As soon as you are able, your baby will be placed skin to skin with you as you leave the operating room. Your baby will stay there with you for at least one hour or until the first feeding is completed.

What if I choose to bottle feed?

ALL mothers can and should do Skin to Skin, no matter how they choose to feed their infants. They will still receive most of the benefits of it. Even if your baby searches for your breast and spontaneously latches on, it doesn’t mean you have to keep breastfeeding. However, before you make a choice about how you will feed your baby, there are a few things you might want to know:

  • Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections and pneumonia
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma
  • Children who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese
  • Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

If you have decided to bottle feed your newborn, ask your nurse about pumping so you can bottle feed your baby your own breast milk instead of formula.

When Should I do Skin to Skin?

With full-term infants you can do Skin to Skin as much as you would like, but for infants to receive the biological benefits of Skin to Skin, it is recommended that babies are kept there for at least one hour every day. After you are discharged from the hospital, keep doing it! Feeding your baby and then letting your baby sleep in skin to skin until the next feeding helps breastfeeding, and gives your baby the kind of sleep that helps the brain develop. If you become sleepy yourself, it’s alright to keep your baby skin to skin if there is someone in the room awake to monitor you. If you are alone and want to rest, always place your baby on his or her back on the baby’s own firm bed.

What should my baby wear during Skin to Skin?

All babies need to wear a diaper, but be sure the diaper does not go higher than the baby’s belly button. The baby’s chest needs to be skin to skin to keep the baby warm. Full-term babies do not need a head cap duringSkin to Skin when indoors, but may need one if they go outdoors into cool temperatures. A head cap on a full-term baby may cause the baby to get too warm after an hour of indoor Skin to Skin. If the baby sweats, take off the cap.

Do I need to bring anything special with me to the hospital to do Skin to Skin?

Not really. Many mothers like to have a camisole-type top or tube top to place the baby inside of during Skin to Skin. Some mothers find this preferable when they have company. There are many other types of wraps and tops specifically made for Skin to Skin. Some are designed so that you can safely provide Skin to Skin at home while doing other activities.

Where can I learn more about Skin to Skin?

Feel free to speak with your health care provider about the benefits of Skin to Skin. There are also several websites you can visit for more information:

The World Health Organization
The United States Institute for Kangaroo Care
The American Academy of Pediatrics

Remember to tell your doctor and hospital nurses that you want to hold your baby in skin to skin until the first feeding after birth is finished, and anytime afterward.

This is a loving way to welcome your baby into the world!

Related Locations

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