In many cultures babies are cradled naked on their mothers’ bare chest at birth, this was done primarily for the baby’s survival. In industrialized countries most babies are born in hospital and as part of routine care may be swaddled and dressed before being given to their mothers. Many studies now suggest that previous hospital routines significantly disrupt early mother baby interactions and may in fact have harmful effects.

 

Current research suggests there are many benefits associated with uninterrupted skin to skin contact post birth for a healthy baby, including those born by caesarean section.  Most studies would suggest up to several hours being the optimum time for skin to skin.  The World Health Organization (WHO) have included at least one hour of uninterrupted skin to skin contact immediately after birth in their “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding”. It has also been shown that skin to skin actually increases the duration of exclusive breastfeeding.  Skin to skin in the first two hours post birth is particularly important for breast feeding as your baby is at its most alert during this time. If left undisturbed and un-medicated often your baby will seek out the nipple and self attach to the breast.

Unless it is medically indicated there is no need to separate you and your baby for procedures such as weighing, measuring or injections. In fact the research strongly supports the use of skin to skin as a means to reduce stress and minimize pain in the healthy neonate. It is possible and often preferable to perform the injections while your baby is skin to skin and/or breast feeding.

Keeping your baby skin to skin with a warm wrap across its back will also assist with their temperature regulation, your body temperature will actually help keep your baby at the optimum temperature and stabilize its heart rate and breathing.

Keeping your baby skin to skin for as long as practical after birth has also been shown to decrease both yours and your baby’s anxiety levels and increase the mother baby bond.

References:

  • Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants (Review) 10
  • Copyright © 2009 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by JohnWiley & Sons, Ltd.
  • Skin-to-Skin Contact Analgesia for Preterm Infant Heel Stick.
  • Susan M. Ludington-Hoe, Ph.D., Professor and Robert B. Hosseini, M.D.
  • ER Moore, GC Anderson… – Cochrane Database Syst …, 2007 – Wiley Online Library