Skin-to-Skin Contact for You and Your Baby
Skin-to-skin means your baby is placed belly-down, directly on your chest, right after birth. Your care provider dries and puts on a hat and blanket on the baby before placing him or her on your chest. The first hours of snuggling skin-to-skin let you and your baby get to know each other and has important health benefits.
If your baby needs to meet the pediatricians first, or if you deliver by C-section, you can unwrap your baby and cuddle shortly after birth. Newborns benefit from skin-to-skin contact, but it's sometimes overwhelming for new moms. It's ok to start slowly as you get to know your baby.
Snuggling gives you and your baby the best start for breastfeeding. Research studies have shown that skin-to-skin babies breastfeed better and are more likely to latch on. They also keep nursing an average of six weeks longer. Keeping your baby skin-to-skin in his first few weeks makes it easy to know when to feed him, especially if he is a little sleepy.
A Smooth Transition
Your chest is the best place for your baby to adjust to life in the outside world. Compared with babies who are swaddled or kept in a crib, skin-to-skin babies feel more stable, stay warmer and calmer, cry less, and have better blood sugars. Skin-to-skin also helps to stabilize the baby's heart rate and blood pressure.
Skin-to-skin cuddling may affect how you relate with your baby. Researchers have watched mothers and infants in the first few days after birth, and they noticed that skin-to-skin moms touch and cuddle their babies more. Even a year later, skin-to-skin moms snuggled more with their babies during a visit to their pediatrician.
Skin-to-Skin Beyond the Delivery Room
Keep cuddling skin-to-skin after you leave the hospital-your baby will stay warm and comfortable on your chest, and the benefits for bonding, soothing, and breastfeeding will continue well after birth.
Dads can snuggle, too. Fathers and mothers who hold babies skin-to-skin help keep them calm and warm.