Skin-to-Skin Contact, Newborn
Skin-to-Skin Contact, Newborn

Skin-to-Skin Contact, Newborn

Skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby is encouraged as soon as birth takes place, whether you had a vaginal delivery or delivered your baby by C-section (cesarean section). Skin-to-skin contact may also be called kangaroo care. The close contact helps to keep your baby warm and calm. It also provides many other benefits.
Skin-to-skin contact may be done to support all medically stable newborn babies, including premature or low-birth-weight babies. It is done as early and as often as possible in the hospital and may be continued at home. It may also be used when your baby has a minor procedure done, such as having blood taken for testing.

How does skin-to-skin contact benefit me?

You and your partner can benefit from skin-to-skin contact with your baby. The practice will:
  • Help you feel close to your baby.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Give you confidence in the care of your baby.
As the mother, skin-to-skin contact with your baby will also:
  • Increase your breast milk supply.
  • Help you breastfeed more successfully.

How does skin-to-skin contact benefit my baby?

For your baby, the benefits of skin-to-skin contact include:
  • Warmth.
  • Stabilization of heart rate, which can help to keep your baby calm.
  • Reduced crying.
  • Longer periods of sleep.
  • Improved breathing and increased oxygen.
  • Improved ability to breastfeed.
  • Improved weight gain.
  • Better bonding with parents.
  • Reduced length of stay in the hospital.
  • Lowered risk of infection.
  • Providing comfort during potentially painful procedures, such as heel pokes.

How is skin-to-skin contact done?

As soon as your baby is born, he or she will be placed on your bare chest in an upright position. A warm blanket may be placed over your baby. If you and your baby are both stable, you will be encouraged to hold your baby in this position for an hour. Watch your baby for feeding cues, like rooting or sucking, and help the baby to your breast for his or her first feeding.
Your partner may also choose to do skin-to-skin contact with your baby. This can be a special time to bond for both of you.
Your health care provider will show you how to do skin-to-skin contact as often as possible. Follow his or her instructions. While you are in the hospital, the process may look something like this:
  1. Your baby will be dressed in a diaper and cap.
  2. You will open or remove your shirt. If you are a female, you will remove your bra.
  3. Your baby will be placed on your bare chest, with your baby's ear resting above your heart. If you are female, the baby will be positioned so that his or her head is between your breasts. Your health care provider will help to transfer the baby and position him or her for proper breathing.
  4. Your baby will be covered with a blanket to keep him or her warm.
  5. You will lie back and relax.
  6. If needed, your baby's heart and breathing may be monitored by the health care provider.
During the first week after birth, you will be encouraged to hold your baby, skin-to-skin, for at least 1 or 2 hours a day.

General tips and recommendations

  • Continue to practice skin-to-skin contact as you transition home. This is especially important during the first few weeks after your baby is born.
  • Encourage your partner to also have skin-to-skin bonding time with your baby.
  • Practice skin-to-skin contact on a regular basis along with breastfeeding.
  • If you practice skin-to-skin contact while on your feet or moving around, make sure your baby is secure and well supported in an upright position.
  • Always use a safe position when holding your baby:
    • Cover your baby's back only.
    • Keep his or her face visible.
    • Turn his or her head to the side and keep the neck straight.

Can skin-to-skin contact be done with premature babies?

With a team of hospital support to guide you as needed, skin-to-skin contact can be safely performed with preterm babies as young as 26 weeks old, including babies on assisted ventilation for breathing problems.

How often should skin-to-skin contact be done?

You and your partner are encouraged to have frequent skin-to-skin contact with your baby while in the hospital and after you are discharged home.
Rooming in, or having your baby stay in the same room as you, will allow you to have skin-to-skin contact as often as possible while you are in the hospital.

Should I take any precautions before having skin-to-skin contact?

  • Use the bathroom prior to starting skin-to-skin time.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Be aware of your level of fatigue. Ask your partner to take over if you feel like you might fall asleep during your skin-to-skin time.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Avoid using any creams, powders, lotions, or perfumes.

Where to find support

For more information on skin-to-skin practices, visit:

Summary

  • Skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby is encouraged as soon as birth takes place.
  • You and your partner are encouraged to have frequent skin-to-skin contact with your baby while in the hospital and after you are discharged home. Be aware of your level of fatigue. Ask your partner to take over if you feel like you might fall asleep during your skin-to-skin time.
  • Rooming in, or having your baby stay in the same room as you, will allow you to have skin-to-skin contact as often as possible.
  • Skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby has many benefits, including better bonding between parents and baby, and better breastfeeding for the mother.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.