During pregnancy, babies are as close to their mothers as possible, getting warmth, food, protection and love at all times. Once labour has happened, the baby no longer has immediate access to those essential benefits and has to rely on its parents to figure out what it needs. It is not surprising that skin-to-skin contact can have numerous benefits for young babies, it is the closest to being back in the warmth and security of the womb.

After birth, babies should be held in direct contact for at least the first few hours, placed on the bare chest of either the mum or dad. This allows both of the parents to bond with their newborn baby and give the mum some time to rest due to afterbirth complications. To keep the baby warm and dry, they should be wearing a nappy and be covered by a blanket.

c The baby’s breathing and heart rate will quickly stabilise, whilst the parent’s body temperature will keep the baby warm and comforted better. Benefits of long term skin-to-skin care has been found in numerous studies, allowing for better maternal attachments, reduced maternal anxiety and enhanced cognitive development.

The best benefits of skin to skin contact are below: 

  1. Keeps the baby’s body temperature stable

Baby’s can find it difficult to manage their own body temperatures, skin to skin contact is one of the most effective ways of keeping the baby’s temperature stabilised and regulated. Whilst hospital incubators can be a good method of keeping baby’s warm, they are not intuitive like the human body and skin to skin contact not only keeps the baby warm but cools down if they are beginning to overheat. The mother’s body accommodates the baby with optimal body temperature, doing the hard work for them.

  1. Helps with breastfeeding

Skin to skin contact can be a crucial factor in encouraging breastfeeding as it releases prolactin and stimulates oxytocin, hormones which will help with milk production. Skin to skin contact stimulates the senses of smell, sight, touch, taste and hearing, allowing the baby and the mother to have a positive and calming effect as they bond together. Skin to skin contact can help the baby to latch onto the breast and feed for longer period of times as they can develop the instinct to suck the nipple once they are placed next to the mums breast. 

  1. Regulates baby’s breathing

When baby’s are first born, it can be a huge transition to take their first breaths of air outside the safety of the womb. Skin to skin contact can help the newborn baby to adapt far more quickly than those who don’t. Studies suggest that the parents heartbeat and breathing helps the baby’s to replicate their breathing patterns and ensuring that their heart beat is regular and steady.

  1. Decreases the amount of crying

Skin to skin contact for the newborn baby can be hugely comforting and stress relieving, ensuring that they do not cry as frequently. Studies suggest that newborns cry instinctively when separated from their mothers and once they have been reunited they stop crying. It is believed that babies stay calmer and more settled when they can feel the physical protection and security that is provided by their mother. Skin to skin contact means that the parents can respond quickly to the baby’s needs and provide important comfort. Whilst skin to skin contact begins in the hospital after birth, it doesn’t need to end there and many parents continue to comfort their babies as they grow older. 

  1. Encourages baby bonding

Skin to skin contact is incredibly comforting and relaxing for both the mother and baby, allowing for deeper and better bonding. Touch is essential for babies development, allowing them to trust and depend on their parents in this new relationship. Hold your baby close from birth and continue to do skin to skin contact as they grow!

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