It’s my birthday – give me a hug!
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 she is born. Your care provider dries her off, puts on a hat, and covers her with a warm blanket, and gets her settled on your chest.. The first hours of snuggling skin-to-skin let you and your baby get to know each other. They also have important health benefits. If she needs to meet the pediatricians first, or if you deliver by c-section, you can unwrap her and snuggle shortly after birth. Some parents might find skin-to-skin to be awkward at first, but it helps you and your baby.
Snuggling gives you and your baby the best start for breastfeeding. Eight different research studies have shown that skin-to-skin babies breastfeed better. They also keep nursing an average of six weeks longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all breastfeeding babies spend time skin-to-skin right after birth. Keeping your baby skin-to-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 stay warmer and calmer, cry less, and have better blood sugars.
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 too – your baby will stay warm and comfortable on your chest, and the benefits for bonding, soothing, and breastfeeding likely continue well after birth. Skin-to-skin can help keep your baby interested in nursing if he’s sleepy. Dads can snuggle, too. Fathers and mothers who hold babies skin-to-skin help keep them calm and cozy..
About the research
Multiple studies over the past 30 years have shown the benefits of skin-to-skin contact. In all the studies described here, mothers were randomly assigned to hold their babies skin-to-skin or see them from a distance. For more information, see
GC. Moore, E. Hepworth, J. Bergman, N. Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants. [Systematic Review] Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2, 2005.
© 2005 Alison Stuebe and Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition