Skin to skin (placing a newborn baby right on mother’s bare skin) is one of the most important things that can be done in the first hour of life. Here is why!
Placing a baby skin to skin can help regulate temperature. A mother’s breasts literally cool and warm depending on her baby’s need.
Skin to skin also helps regulate breathing and heart rate. Remember babies are immature and sometimes their breathing and heart rates slow. Studies show that when skin to skin a baby actually syncs their heart rate and breathing pattern to their mothers. It serves as training for the baby.
Skin to skin in the first hour can reduce postpartum mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD). New research found that being allowed to hold and snuggle their newborns led to an overall feeling of well being that can lead to a decrease incidence of PMAD.
A recent study found that skin to skin 3 hours a day can reduce a baby’s crying by up to 43%! Imagine, such a simple thing can calm a baby and lead to overall less maternal stress. Similarly, research shows that skin to skin helps baby’s fall asleep faster and sleep longer, also leading to overall less maternal stress.
Spending time skin to skin helps babies nurse sooner and longer. This helps establish mother’s milk which then leads to a height chance that breastfeeding will be successful.
Skin to skin has so many positive effects. Anyone can do skin to skin if the baby is clinically stable. Even mothers who have cesarean section can skin to skin if it is deemed safe. But if you cannot have skin to skin immediate after birth because of clinical concerns, do not worry! Skin to skin at any point is beneficial to you and the baby! So when the baby or you are stable, get those cuddles in!!
About Dr. Shea
Dr. Shea grew up in Florida and is fluent in Spanish. She spent two years abroad in Italy where she worked as a physician at the Health Unit of the US Embassy, Rome. During her training she developed an interest in international Child Health. She enjoys spending time reading novels, running for fitness and eating at new restaurants.