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Diseases & Conditions

Skin-to-Skin Contact for You&Baby

What is meant by “skin-to-skin”?

Skin-to-skin means your baby is placed belly-down, directly on your chest, right after your baby is born. Your care provider dries your baby off, puts a hat on your baby, covers your baby with a warm blanket, and gets your baby settled on your chest. The first hours of snuggling skin-to-skin let you and your baby get to know each other. They also have important health benefits. If your baby needs to meet the pediatrician first, or if you deliver by c-section, you can unwrap your baby and cuddle shortly after birth. Newborns crave skin-to-skin contact, but it’s sometimes overwhelming for new moms. It’s okay to start slowly as you get to know your baby.

Breastfeeding

Snuggling gives you and your baby the best start for breastfeeding. Eight different research studies have shown that skin-to-skin babies breastfeed better. They also keep nursing an average of six weeks longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all breastfeeding babies spend time skin-to-skin right after birth. Keeping your baby skin-to-skin in the first few weeks makes it easy to know when to feed your baby, especially if your baby is a little sleepy.

A smooth transition

Your chest is the best place for your baby to adjust to life in the outside world. Compared with babies who are swaddled or kept in a crib, skin-to-skin babies stay warmer and calmer, cry less, and have better blood sugars.

Bonding

Skin-to-skin cuddling may affect how you relate with your baby. Researchers have watched mothers and infants in the first few days after birth, and they noticed that skin-to-skin moms touch and cuddle their babies more. Even a year later, skin-to-skin moms snuggled more with their babies during a visit with their pediatrician.

Skin-to-skin beyond the delivery room

Keep cuddling skin-to-skin after you leave the hospital. Your baby will stay warm and comfortable on your chest, and the benefits for bonding, soothing, and breastfeeding will likely continue. If your baby is sleepy, skin-to-skin can help keep your baby interested in nursing. Dads can snuggle, too. Fathers and mothers who hold babies skin-to-skin help keep them calm and cozy.

About the research

Multiple studies over the past 30 years have shown the benefits of skin-to-skin contact. In all the studies described here, mothers were randomly assigned to hold their babies skin-to-skin or see them from a distance.

References:

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Can't find the health information you’re looking for?

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 7/23/2012…#15276