Have you ever wondered what skin-to-skin contact is or why healthcare workers talk about it and say that it is important?
Have you ever wondered what you are really supposed to do and how to best do skin-to-skin contact.
You’ve come to the right place to find the answers.
I have had great experiences with skin-to-skin contact, even after having delayed it right after delivery (I unfortunately had meconium in my amniotic fluid). Luckily, I was able to do skin-to-skin contact within 10 minutes of delivery and had great bonding experiences and a great breastfeeding experience because of it. I still do skin-to-skin with my daughter occasionally, and she is almost 12 months old now.
Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why
Who: Skin-to-skin contact is between the mother and baby. Your partner can also do skin-to-skin contact with your baby.
What/How: Skin-to-skin contact is performed by placing a naked baby, in a diaper, onto mom’s bare chest. You can then place a blanket over baby’s back, or if mom is wearing a robe or sweater you can wrap that around baby’s back. You could also use a skin-to-skin sleep belt.
Where: Skin-to-skin contact should be done in the hospital, birth center, at home, or anywhere that is comfortable for you and your baby.
When:  Skin-to-skin contact (when possible) should be done immediately after delivery for at least one hour, and frequently afterward.  Whenever you want – research has shown that there are more benefits for mom and baby with more skin-to-skin contact.
Why: Skin-to-skin contact after delivery has been shown to benefit mom and baby in a lot of ways. Here are a few of the benefits of skin-to-skin care.
Benefits to baby:
- Helps regulate vital signs (temperature, heart rate, and oxygen levels)
- Reduces stress (baby cries less)
- Helps baby adjust to life outside the uterus
- Helps promote breastfeeding
- Protects against infection
Benefits to mother:
- Increased mother/infant bonding
- Stimulates mothering feelings
- Reduces stress
- Promotes breastfeeding
- Increase confidence
If you know anyone who might be interested in the who, what, where, when, how, and why of skin-to-skin contact, please share this with them.
You are powerful. I hope this article has helped you recognize the power that you already have within, and that you will join me in spreading that recognition to everyone you know.
I hope that this has helped you recognize your power and that you feel more empowered and confident with the power you already have.
AWOHNN (2016). Immediate and Sustained Skin-to-Skin Contact for the Healthy Term Newborn After Birth: AWHONN Practice Brief Number 5. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 45(6), 842-844. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jogn.2016.09.001
Crenshaw, J. T. (2014). Healthy Birth Practice #6: Keep Mother and Baby Together— It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 23(4), 211–217. http://doi.org/10.1891/1058-1243.23.4.211
Moore, E. R., Anderson, G. C., Bergman, N., & Dowswell, T. (2012). Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 5, CD003519. http://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003519.pub3
Sharma, A. (2016). Efficacy of early skin-to-skin contact on the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in term neonates: a randomized controlled trial. African Health Sciences, 16(3), 790–797. http://doi.org/10.4314/ahs.v16i3.20