Benefits of Skin to Skin
Nursing Your BEST
Simple, but powerful!
Skin-to-skin time is when baby snuggles on a parent’s bare chest. Skin-to-skin is good for all babies, whether they are nursing, or human milk substitute feeding.
Babies need lots of skin-to-skin time with partners in the hospital and at home.
- Calms you and baby.
- Helps baby cry less.
- Releases hormones that relieve stress and stabilize baby’s temperature, breathing rate, heart rate, and blood sugar.
- Releases a hormone that lowers nursing parent’s stress and promotes healing.
- Helps your colostrum (the first milk that is full of nutrients that protect baby) to flow more easily.
- Boosts baby’s immune system and protects against illness and disease.
- Builds a strong brain through the smells, textures, and sounds the baby experiences while on a parent’s chest.
- Helps baby gain weight faster.
- Helps with breastfeeding longer by building milk supply and making bond with baby stronger.
- Lowers nursing parent’s risk of postpartum mood disorder.
- Creates connections between parents and baby that last a lifetime.
- Gives nursing parent a chance to rest or take a break.
Right From the Start: The Sacred Hour
The first hour after delivery is called the Sacred Hour. It is a special bonding time that begins when your baby is placed skin-to-skin on your chest right after birth. Your heartbeat will calm your baby, and baby will smell your milk. You should keep doing skin-to-skin time with no interruptions until your baby finishes this first feeding.
What Happens During the Sacred Hour?
You can expect your baby will have:
- The birth cry
- A more alert period
Getting Started With Nursing
If your baby has any trouble latching and nursing in the first hour, it is very important that you use hand expression to remove some colostrum from your breasts. This early stimulation will help get your milk supply going even if your baby wasn’t able to suckle at your breast.
Nursing Protects Your Baby!
Nursing exposes your baby to new germs, and your milk has antibodies that fight against those germs. It’s like giving your baby his first immunization!
Plan for Skin-to-Skin after Birth
Make skin-to-skin part of your birth plan. Choose a care provider and birth place that will support skin-to-skin time during the Sacred Hour. Skin-to-skin helps parents and baby get off to a good start with nursing.
- If birthing at a hospital, ask if they offer skin-to-skin after cesarean section deliveries if you and the baby are alert and stable.
- Partners may want to wear a shirt that can be unbuttoned so baby can easily be snuggled skin-to-skin.
- Let family and friends know about your plans. Tell them whenever you need privacy for skin-to-skin time, whether at a birth place or at home.
- There’s no specific age when skin-to-skin should stop. It provides powerful benefits for baby the entire time.
When you’re having skin-to-skin time, you always want to make sure baby can breathe. You don’t want baby’s neck bent too far forward, and baby’s nose and mouth should always be uncovered. Remember to:
- Save skin-to-skin for those times you won’t fall asleep. If you fall asleep, you can easily block baby’s airway. Ask your partner, family, chosen support, or birth place staff to watch over you and baby right after you deliver, as you will likely get very sleepy.
- Keep baby in an upright position (his head higher than his feet).
- Adults who hold baby should sit semi-upright with a pillow behind their back.
- Make sure baby’s head is turned to the side with his nose up in a sniffing position so he can breathe easily.
- Dress baby in a diaper and cap.
- Place blankets over baby’s back to keep everyone warm and cozy. Don’t let the blankets cover baby’s nose or mouth.