Mother and baby skin-to-skin information

​Skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby immediately following birth for at least an hour and frequently thereafter is recommended and you are encouraged to recognise when your baby is ready to breastfeed, accept help if you need it.

Why is skin-to-skin contact important?

It helps with the following:

  • Assists with bonding

  • The baby is more likely to latch and breastfed 

  • Prolongs breastfeeding duration

  • Releases colostrum ready for the baby

  • Enhances 'baby-led' breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding is a programme in the baby's hindbrain and is "baby driven"

  • Assists in the transition period – from foetal to neonatal life – for the baby.  It enhances stabilisation of behaviour and facilities adaptation to the outside world

  • Encourages breastfeeding – driven by smell, taste, voice – the unwashed breast is best

  • Stabilises heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation and therefore blood sugars

  • Babies cry less (therefore aids blood sugar stabilising)

  • Offers pain relief during painful procedures

  • Colonises baby with beneficial maternal organisms which protect baby from infections and programmes baby towards good health for the rest of its life

  • Takes advantage of the baby's alert period after birth

  • A latch usually occurs by 50 minutes as long as there is no influence from drugs given during labour

  • Separation from the mother doubles the baby's stress hormones.  These levels decrease when baby is given back to mother 

  • Higher maternal oxytocin levels.  This helps:

      • to increase the amount of breastmilk released

      • with the birth of the placenta (high oxytocin levels at 15,30,45 minutes after birth are significantly elevated)

      • to increase the temperature of maternal chest wall

      • to provide a relaxing and calming effect

Mother and baby skin-on-skin
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Page last reviewed: 08 January 2015
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