Skin-to-skin means holding your baby whilst they are naked or wearing just a nappy, so that their skin is in contact with the bare skin of your chest and tummy. Usually the mother does this, although other parents and caregivers can do it too. Skin-to-skin has lots of benefits for both you and your baby. It calms your baby and helps them maintain their body temperature and heart rate. It also helps you build your milk supply and helps breastfeeding get off to a good start by giving your baby easy access to the breast in those early days.
UNICEF recommends that:
- all mothers have skin-to-skin contact with their baby after birth, at least until after the first feed and for as long as they wish
- all mothers are encouraged to offer the first feed in skin contact when the baby shows signs of readiness to feed
- mothers and babies who are unable to have skin contact immediately after birth are encouraged to commence skin contact as soon as they are able, whenever or wherever that may be
If you are having any issues with feeding, soon after birth or even in the first few weeks and beyond, spending time skin-to-skin with your baby can make a real difference. Sometimes feeding can become stressful. Going back to spending time being together cuddling in skin-to-skin contact without pressure to feed can help to relax both you and your baby and make feeding easier. Even if it doesn’t help with feeding, skin-to-skin cuddles can help you and your baby to bond.
You can visit the UNICEF website for more information on skin-to-skin.