Skin to Skin Contact
We know that holding your baby against your body (skin to skin contact) after the birth will help baby in many ways.
Skin to skin contact is great for:
- Calming and relaxing for both mother and baby
- Regulating heart rate and breathing in the baby
- Regulating baby’s temperature … keeping them warmer or cooler as needed
It is recommended that uninterrupted skin to skin contact after birth should continue until after the first feed.
Immediately after birth, babies who are placed skin to skin on their mother’s chest will:
- Cry briefly – a very distinctive birth cry
- Then they will enter a stage of relaxation, recovering from the birth
- Then the baby will start to wake up
- Then begin to move, initially little movements, perhaps of the arms, shoulders and head
- As these movements increase your baby will actually start to crawl towards the breast
- Once your baby has found the breast and therefore his food source, he will tend to rest for a little while. Often this can be mistaken as the baby is not hungry or wanting to feed
- However after your baby has rested they will start to nuzzle, smell and lick the breast before they finally attaches.
- Once they have suckled for a period of time, your baby will come off the breast and fall asleep.
- Your Midwife will be there to help you at this time.
All babies will follow this process, providing it is not interrupted by, for example, taking the baby away to weigh or the mother going for a shower. Interrupting the process before the baby has done this, or trying to hurry him, is not helpful and may lead to breastfeeding problems.
If your baby is born by caesarean section you should still be able to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby straight after the birth. Some births may involve complications that mean skin-to-skin might be delayed. If this happens, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to breastfeed your baby.
Your midwife will help you have skin-to-skin contact with your baby as soon as it's possible.
Partners can also spend time with baby having skin to skin contact as long as baby is not wanting to be fed. This is a great way for dad and baby to bond!