‘Skin-to-skin’ means holding your baby against your bare skin with their bare skin touching your own, usually against your chest.
Skin-to-skin contact has been shown to:
- Improve the attachment you have with your baby
- Calm and relax both you and your baby
- Regulate your baby’s heart rate and breathing
- Familiarise your baby’s skin with friendly bacteria, which can aid development of their immune system, provide protection against infection and help to prevent allergies in later life
- Help to establish and maintain breastfeeding, it encourages your baby to look for the breast
Take a look at this video from Unicef about meeting your baby for the first time:
This video was not produced by Health for Under 5’s and may contain adverts.
You or your partner can have skin-to-skin contact with your baby soon after birth.
If you or your baby need additional care in hospital and skin-to-skin contact is delayed, it’ll be offered as soon as possible. Skin-to-skin contact will benefit babies as it:
- Reduces stress levels
- Improves oxygen saturation levels
- Assists with growth
- Helps protect your baby from infection
You can also encourage your partner or other children to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby in the first few weeks after birth. Feeding time is always a good chance to have skin-to-skin contact time, whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed.
Health for Under 5’s – The first 1001 critical days
Unicef – Skin-to-skin contact
NCT.org.uk – Skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding