Benefits of Parent-Baby Skin-to-Skin Contact

Newborn Baby Lying on Mother
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The simple act of being skin to skin with your baby after birth has many benefits on your health and baby's health. Because of the benefits, many hospitals are going to policies that not only permit but encourage you to be skin to skin with your baby after birth. This policy may be called something different depending on where you are, but basically, it is the uninterrupted time for you to hold your baby, breastfeed if that's your choice, and to bond with your baby.

  1. Baby is warmer.
    1. Your skin is a radiant warmer and will keep your baby perfectly warm. Simply lay baby on your skin, abdomen or chest, dry the baby off while there and put warm blankets on you and baby. If the blankets get wet, you can have someone help you switch them out.
  2. Baby breathes more normally.
    1. Babies who are skin to skin with mom after birth breathe more easily and more rhythmically. This is thought to be because they are able to hear your heartbeat and are calmer, but also because they feel your breathing.
  3. Baby cries less.
    1. The comfort of being with mom leads to babies who cry less after the initial cries at birth. They have always been held, just inside the body. Having someone they recognize the sound and smell of is important to their stability.
  4. More breast milk.
    1. When babies are skin to skin after birth, they are more likely to nurse and nurse sooner and longer. This can lead to a better breast milk supply. This is true even if the baby doesn't breastfeed immediately.
  5. Baby can hear your heartbeat.
    1. After nine long months of hearing your heartbeat, your baby feels comforted by hearing the heartbeat he or she has grown with every day. This can help them stay calm.
  6. Baby is more likely to have a normal heart rate.
    1. All of these benefits add up to a baby who is more stable, including a more stabilized heart rate. A happy baby is a healthy baby in terms of transitioning from the womb.

Skin to skin with the baby is good for all types of births, assuming your baby is stable, as most full-term babies are at birth. Even after a cesarean birth (c-section) mom can hold baby skin to skin or dad if mom is not available. Skin to skin care for preterm babies is also important and many NICUs will direct you in how to use the skin to skin care to help stabilize your new baby. Be sure to let your practitioners know that you want to be skin to skin with the baby after birth! You can do this by having conversations with your practitioner, asking on your hospital tour, and including this in your birth plans.

Routine Procedures After Birth

Before the skin to skin, policies were in place many babies had routine procedures done like bathing, weighing, measuring, and other things done during this first hour. Now, many are done while the baby is with you, or they simply wait until this initial hour has passed. If your baby is having trouble transitioning to life outside the womb, the nurses will be sure that your baby gets the support he or she needs, which may include taking them to a warmer for treatment by the medical team. If this happens, someone can usually follow the baby and the goal is always to get the baby back to you as soon as they are stable.

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Article Sources
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