Skin-to-skin (a fancy term for snuggling with your baby!) involves placing your newborn onto your own, or a family member’s, bare chest. It has immense benefits for both mother and baby in the short-term and long-term.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef recommend that families start skin-to-skin right after birth for a minimum of 1 hour, and continue skin-to-skin often for the first 6 weeks and beyond.
How to perform skin-to-skin:
Immediately following birth (either vaginal or cesarean delivery), your dried newborn should be placed onto your chest for a minimum of 1 uninterrupted hour. This means that non-urgent interventions, such as a full head to toe examination and weighing your baby, can wait until after this golden hour is done! Normal newborn care, such as vital sign assessments and medications, can and should be done while your baby remains on your chest.
Baby should be naked, except for a diaper. We use the saying “tummy to mummy”, meaning that your infant’s bare belly will be in direct contact with your bare chest.
Cover your baby with a blanket, but be sure not to cover their head or neck, and that their head is turned to one side so you can see their face at all times.
Watch for early feeding cues for breastfeeding—you will be amazed at how skin-to-skin helps with obtaining a good latch and an earlier interest in breastfeeding!
Ensure that you are awake and alert (although your baby may fall asleep, you should not sleep with your baby on your chest!)
Benefits for baby
o Regulates respiration, oxygenation, heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels
o Maintains optimal temperature
o Reduces stress hormones and anxiety
o Decreases crying
o Stimulates digestion and feeding
o Reduces pain during painful procedures (heel-prick blood test, medication administration)
o Reduces need for formula
o Protects against negative effects of maternal-infant separation
o Supports optimal infant brain development
o Protects against infection
o Decreases risk of obesity and metabolic diseases in child’s long-term health
Benefits for mother
o Increases oxytocin release (the love hormone!)
o Leads to early expulsion of placenta through uterine contraction after childbirth
o Reduces bleeding and the risk for hemorrhage
o Increases breastfeeding self-efficacy
o Reduces maternal stress hormones
o Decreases anxiety and pain
o Maintains heart rate, blood pressure and thermoregulation
o Reduces incidence of postpartum depression
o One year after birth, improves quality of interactions between mothers and their children
o Nine years after birth, leads to a positive trajectory of emotional engagement with child
For more information, our Prenatal Course covers everything you need to know to feel more prepared for the arrival of your baby. Register online or contact us today!