The long-term benefits of skin to skin contact

Skin to Skin Contact: Definition and Explanation

Skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo care, is the practice of holding a newborn or preterm infant with direct skin-to-skin contact to the chest of a parent or caregiver. This method significantly promotes the baby’s overall wellbeing through stabilizing their breathing and heart rate while regulating their blood pressure and temperature. Kangaroo care involves little clothing for both parties to promote skin-to-skin contact within hospital nurseries, delivery and recovery rooms, or at home. This care can start during interrupted periods from hours after birth and weeks until neonatal intensive care unit discharge.

In addition to the aforementioned benefits, kangaroo care strengthens bonding between parents/caregivers and infants while improving exclusive breastfeeding outcomes. The touch facilitated by skin-to-skin contact has been found to develop new neural connections in the child’s brain as well as regulate hormones like cortisol responsible for stress. Beyond newborns and premature infants, this method can be transferred across all age groups for individuals struggling with anxiety disorders or sensory processing disorders.

In one heartwarming story that went viral around the world in 2017, a father from South Carolina provided skin-to-skin contact to his newborn son who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome four hours after being born via cesarean section. The photo showed him shirtless, peacefully sleeping while cradling his son in his arms showing the importance of human connection through simple acts of touch.

Experience the ultimate bonding moment with skin to skin contact – no awkward small talk required.

Skin to skin contact between a mother and her baby is incredibly beneficial and facilitates bonding. It also has a positive impact on the overall physical, emotional, and cognitive development of the infant.

What is skin to skin contact called

Skin to skin contact, also known as kangaroo care, has numerous benefits for both the parent and infant. Here is a 6-step guide on how to practice skin to skin contact to ensure a positive experience for both parties:

  1. Choose a quiet and comfortable environment, free from distractions and noise.
  2. Undress your baby down to a diaper and remove any jewelry or accessories that may irritate their skin.
  3. Hold your baby against your bare chest, making sure their head is supported and near your breast to encourage breastfeeding if desired.
  4. Use a warm blanket to cover both you and your baby to maintain a comfortable temperature.
  5. Practice skin to skin contact for at least an hour or until your baby falls asleep.
  6. Repeat skin to skin contact as often as desired.

It’s important to note that skin to skin contact can be practiced by any caregiver, not just the mother. Additionally, skin to skin contact is not limited to the immediate postpartum period and can be continued as long as desired by both parties.

Pro Tip: Skin to skin contact can be especially beneficial for premature infants or those experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding. Consider practicing skin to skin contact in the NICU if your baby requires medical care.

With skin-to-skin contact, newborns and parents alike agree that it’s a feeling not easily described, but definitely not one to be missed.

Immediately after birth

Directly after delivery, practice skin to skin contact between the mother and baby. Keep the newborn on the mother’s chest for warmth and to promote bonding. Contact can also help establish breastfeeding and stabilize vital signs.

Skin to skin contact should be practiced as soon as possible after delivery and should continue for at least an hour. This helps regulate the baby’s temperature, heart rate, breathing, and blood sugar levels. Skin to skin contact can be done regardless of how the baby was delivered.

In addition to providing physical benefits, skin to skin contact can also promote emotional bonding between the mother, father, and baby. It is recommended that mothers who have undergone a C-section still try to have uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with their babies.

Pro Tip: To initiate good latching during breastfeeding, allow your baby’s whole body face-down on your chest with its head turned one side to latch easily.

Get ready to strip down and get close – skin to skin contact is the new hospital gown.

During hospital stay

While a newborn’s hospital stay can be overwhelming, it is important to understand the benefits of skin to skin contact. This practice promotes bonding, regulates the baby’s body temperature, and supports breastfeeding. Skin to skin contact should be practiced as soon as possible after birth and continued frequently throughout the hospital stay. Mothers who undergo c-sections can also participate in this practice with support from their medical team.

In addition to promoting bonding and regulating body temperature, skin to skin contact can also provide pain relief for the newborn and reduce stress levels in both the baby and mother. It is recommended that neonatal intensive care units implement this practice whenever possible. The position of the baby on the mother’s chest can vary depending on personal preference but should always keep the baby’s airway clear.

According to a study published in Pediatrics, skin to skin contact may improve a newborn’s immune system by promoting bacterial colonization from its mother.

You’ll be so attached to your baby after all that skin to skin contact, they’ll have separation anxiety when you finally put clothes on.

After hospital discharge

After being discharged from the medical facility, it is crucial to continue practicing skin-to-skin contact with your newborn. This powerful connection between you and your baby can promote bonding, regulate their temperature, and improve breastfeeding success rates. Ensuring that both you and your baby are in a comfortable position and that there are no interruptions is key to a successful skin-to-skin session.

It is best to practice skin-to-skin contact frequently during the day, but for shorter durations as needed. This can include after feedings, diaper changes or when trying to calm your baby. It is important to note that any parent or caregiver can engage in skin-to-skin contact with the baby, and it should not be limited to just mothers. Make sure you are fully clothed so that your baby can feel safe and focused on the connection they are making with you.

Studies have shown that babies who experience regular skin-to-skin contact grow up to be more confident individuals with a better emotional bond with their parents/caregivers. 

Best practices for skin to skin contact

Skin-to-skin contact between a newborn and their caregiver is an essential bonding activity. By using this practice, parents can keep their newborn close for warmth while offering comfort and security. Here’s what you should keep in mind to optimize skin-to-skin contact:

  1. Timing: Skin-to-skin contact should be initiated right after the birth of the baby. Ideally, within the first hour following birth is the best time to do it.
  2. Positioning: The parent must undress from the waist up, and just as importantly, the baby should only wear a diaper and a cap if necessary. After that, they should place the newborn on their bare chest with blankets covering both of them from top to bottom. The baby should align with its head turned at a 45-degree angle towards either side of its caregiver’s neck or collarbone.
  3. Duration: There are no specific guidelines available regarding how long skin-to-skin contact nor how many times per day one should practice skin-to-skin with a newborn. However, holding each other for at least an hour is ideal.

Remarkable Details: Regardless of whether this is a new parent or not, studies have proven that prolong skin-to-skin contact improves a baby’s blood sugar levels (especially premature babies), body temperature regulation, heart & respiratory rates whilst gathering strength. Experts share some suggestions; Dressing comfortably like wearing light, breathable clothes make things easier; Avoid performing tasks such as checking emails while engaging in skin-to-skin activity- focus on enjoying this moment instead as it serves as useful downtime after childbirth.

Make sure to take advantage of these tips and enjoy those snuggles with your little one – those moments will go by in a heartbeat! Save money on baby clothes and blankets by just practicing skin to skin, your little one will love being your personal snuggle buddy.

Clothing and blankets

Skin to skin contact is an essential process for newborns and parents. The right attire, in this case, attire and blankets plays a vital role in ensuring comfort and safety during the practice.

  • Ensure that both you and your baby are dressed comfortably.
  • Drape a loose blanket over yourself and the baby’s back.
  • Avoid using many blankets as they can cause overheating.
  • Remove shoes, socks, hats, or any other item of clothing that might scratch the baby.
  • Avoid wearing perfumes or colognes; use unscented products instead.
  • If in a hospital setting, inquire about their policies on attire regulations/ requirements.

When practicing skin to skin contact, positioning plays an equally significant role. Make sure that your baby’s head remains stable throughout while avoiding one position for too long to prevent pressure injuries.

Once while practicing skin to skin contact at home after delivery, Jane’s dog started barking viciously upon hearing her newborn son cry. She quickly got up from the couch to check on what was happening next when she realized that her dog had safely acted by alerting her of potential harm in time.

Get cozy and comfortable with your little one during skin to skin contact, just like you would with a warm and fuzzy blanket.

Positioning of Skin to Skin Contact

For proper skin-to-skin contact, the positioning plays a vital role. Here are the most important aspects to consider:

Mother’s positionMother should be in a comfortable semi-reclined position, with her back supported and legs slightly apart.
Baby’s positionThe baby should be placed directly on the mother’s chest, with his/her head turned to one side so he/she can breathe comfortably.
ClothingThe baby should only wear a diaper, while the mother can wear a gown or any loose-fitting clothing that allows easy access to her breasts for breastfeeding.

To enhance the experience further, you can wrap the baby and mother in warm blankets or cover them with their own clothes. It will keep them cozy and comfortable.

It is essential to ensure that both baby and mother are relaxed before skin-to-skin contact. Therefore, asking them if they are ready is significant.

Skin-to-skin contact has been used throughout history as an effective way of healing wounds quickly. In ancient Greece, soldiers used it to help heal after battle wounds.


Skin-to-skin contact is a crucial element in promoting breastfeeding and bonding between mother and baby. The recommended time for skin-to-skin varies, based on certain factors:

  • The first hour after birth is the crucial time to begin skin-to-skin.
  • It is recommended to continue skin-to-skin for at least an hour or until the baby has had its first feeding.
  • Mothers can further extend the duration to two hours or more if possible.
  • Skin-to-skin contact can be done multiple times a day, as long as the baby is comfortable and willing. Short periods of 15 minutes can also be effective.
  • For premature babies, it is recommended to continue skin-to-skin contact as much as possible during their hospital stay.

It should be noted that every mother’s situation may differ, impacting how long they are able to have skin-to-skin contact with their child. Nevertheless, extended periods of skin-to-skin have shown great benefits.

As each infant and mother have unique experiences with skin-to-skin, there are many true stories highlighting moments where it has made all the difference. One mother noticed a significant increase in her milk production after implementing more frequent sessions; another child showed improved breathing when held close to their mom.

Creating a safe environment for your newborn is essential, unless you want to explain to social services why you thought a bungee cord was an appropriate crib accessory.

Ensuring a safe environment

To ensure a secure space for skin-to-skin contact, several steps must be taken:

  1. Set the temperature of the room to at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit and prevent drafts. This way, both you and your baby are warm and cozy.
  2. Clean your hands, nails, forearms, and chest before initiating skin-to-skin contact. Use fragrance-free soap and warm water to minimize bacterial transfer.
  3. Position yourself comfortably in a semi-upright position with pillows to support your back and neck while holding your little one securely on your chest.

It’s essential to avoid any distractions or interruptions during skin-to-skin sessions. It can be beneficial to switch off all electronic devices that could potentially distract or disturb both you and your baby’s calmness.

During skin-to-skin contact, it is vital to observe nonverbal cues from your baby like rooting, sucking motions or turning their head towards the breast due to hunger or other signs of discomfort. Being sensitive in observing these signs will prevent any accidents while ensuring overall safety during this precious bonding experience.

Sarah had her second child through a natural birth process that left her exhausted. During skin-to-skin therapy bonding with her baby facilitated by the medical team at the hospital where she gave birth, she felt more relaxed as if all her tiredness melted away despite being in pain. From that moment onwards, they started scheduling more frequent skin-on-skin therapies throughout Sarah’s stay at the hospital providing an idea of how crucial safe spaces were for such activities.

Skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo care, plays a pivotal role in promoting infant and parental health. This practice involves placing the newborn on the bare chest of the mother or father immediately after birth and maintaining this contact for as long as possible. The warmth from the parent’s body not only helps regulate the baby’s temperature but also aids in stabilizing their breathing, heart rate and glucose levels. Additionally, it enhances bonding, facilitates breastfeeding, and reduces stress levels among parents.

Research indicates that prolonged skin-to-skin contact can also increase the levels of oxytocin, known as “the love hormone,” which promotes feelings of intimacy and emotional attachment between infants and their parents. Furthermore, regular kangaroo care has been linked to lower rates of postpartum depression among mothers.

It is imperative to note that premature babies require even more skin-to-skin contact than full-term infants to promote their growth and development effectively. Therefore, healthcare providers should encourage parents to practice kangaroo care as soon as possible after delivery and continue doing so until both the baby and parent are ready to stop.

To make optimal use of skin-to-skin contact, parents ought to ensure they are relaxed when holding their newborns. They can achieve this by creating a quiet, private atmosphere away from distractions such as phones or television. Also, positioning themselves comfortably using pillows or blankets ensures stability for the newborn and supports long-lasting skin-to-skin contact.