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6 Reasons to Be Skin to Skin with Baby After Birth

Skin to Skin with Baby Works Wonders

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Updated February 11, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Skin to skin with baby

A new mom is skin to skin with baby in the labor room.

Photo © iStockPhoto
The simple act of being skin to skin with your baby after birth has many benefits on your health and baby's health including:

  1. Baby is warmer.
    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 over you and baby.

  2. Baby breathes more normally.
    Babies who are skin to skin with mom after birth breathe more easily and more rhythmically.

  3. Baby cries less.
    The comfort of being with mom leads to babies who cry less after the initial cries at birth.

  4. More breast milk.
    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.

  5. Baby can her your heart beat.
    After nine long months of hearing your heart beat, your baby feels comforted by hearing the heart beat he or she has grown with.

  6. Baby is more likely to have a normal heart rate.
    All of these add up to a baby who is more stable.
Skin to skin with 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 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 baby after birth!

Sources:

Lindenberg, C. S., Cabrera Artola, R., & Jimenez, V. (1990). The effect of early post-partum mother-infant contact and breast-feeding promotion on the incidence and continuation of breast-feeding. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 27(3), 179–186.

Medves, J., & O’Brien, B. (2004). The effect of bather and location of first bath on maintaining thermal stability in newborns. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 33(2), 175–182.

Mikiel-Kostyra, K., Mazur, J., & Boltruszko, I. (2002). Effect of skin-to-skin contact after delivery on duration of breastfeeding: A prospective cohort study. Acta Paediatrica, 91(12), 1301–1306.

Widström, A. M., Wahlberg, V., Matthiesen, A. S., Eneroth, P., Uvnäs-Moberg, K., & Werner, S., et al. (1990). Short-term effects of early suckling and touch of the nipple on maternal behavior. EarlyHuman Development, 21(3), 153–163.

Winberg, J. (2005). Mother and newborn baby: Mutual regulation of physiology and behavior—A selective review. Developmental Psychobiology, 47(3), 217–229.

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