Skin-to-skin care means your baby’s bare skin touches your bare belly or chest as much as possible. This is recommended in the first days and weeks of life. The position helps a baby’s adjustment to life outside the womb go much smoother. With skin-to-skin contact, a baby will:
Additionally, if you are planning to breastfeed, your baby may find it easier to latch on in this position, and you may be more likely to breastfeed longer.
Skin-to-skin position also has benefits for the mother, including:
Both bottle-feeding and breastfeeding mothers and their babies are encouraged to do skin-to-skin positioning. From the point of view of breastfeeding, babies who are kept in uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with the mother immediately after birth for at least an hour are more likely to latch on without any help and they are more likely to latch on well, especially if the mother did not receive medication during the labor or birth.
Regardless of feeding choice, skin-to-skin contact helps with bonding and helps to calm a baby when he or she is upset. During skin-to-skin time, anything that is not necessary for the immediate well-being of the mother and the baby can be completed while the baby is in skin-to-skin position or can be delayed until after the first breastfeeding. This includes newborn medications, foot and hand printing, weighing, and measurements. If your baby requires glucose monitoring due to size or gestational age, this can be done with your baby in the skin-to-skin position.
If your baby is delivered by Cesarean section, skin-to-skin time will begin as soon as it is determined that both you and your baby are stable. This may occur in the operating room or may occur shortly after. In situations of non-emergent Cesarean section, you may want to discuss with your healthcare team your personal goals for skin-to-skin time with your baby after delivery so that we can try to achieve these goals safely.
Rooming in is highly recommended for all healthy newborns. Plan to “room in” with your baby during your hospital stay. Rooming in means that you and your baby are together 24 hours/day. When you room in, your baby remains with you in your room throughout your entire maternity stay, unless a medical procedure requires separation. Your baby needs to know you are close by smelling your scent, feeling you, hearing your heartbeat, and hearing your voice. This will mean less crying and faster weight gain for your baby, and more rest and sleep for both of you. Rooming in will also help you and your partner start to recognize feeding cues, such as sucking on hands and certain mouth movements. Be sure to plan to have your partner or adult support person with you in your room at all times to help out!