Skin-to-skin contact is a way of holding your baby right after birth and can be done with anyone who cares for your baby. It’s when a mother has her naked newborn baby against her bare chest. Skin-to-skin contact promotes healthy brain development, improves parent-child attachment relationships, optimizes your baby’s physical health and growth, and helps regulate their heart rate, breathing, and body temperature.
Skin-to-skin care (SSC), also called Kangaroo Care, is when a baby is placed chest-to-chest against its mother’s bare skin.
Skin-to-skin care (SSC) is also known as Kangaroo Care since it closely resembles how a kangaroo nurtures their offspring. It has many significant benefits for both the mother and baby, especially in the first month of life. SSC can be done with anyone who cares for your baby.
How does SSC benefit mothers?
Skin-to-skin contact with your baby is good for both the mother and baby. The increased milk production from skin-to-skin contact can provide the nutrition your baby needs to grow. This is especially important during early life when babies are born with only a thin layer of fat to protect them from illness or injury.
Skin-to-skin contact also decreases pain during breastfeeding by reducing swelling and inflammation that might otherwise occur in a mother’s breasts as she nurses her child.
There are many other reasons why skin-to-skin contact with your baby is beneficial:
- It helps you retain your heat, making you feel more comfortable when you’re out in cold weather.
- It helps you bond more closely with your child by providing a sense of safety and security (especially if the two of you are very close in size)
- It helps reduce stress levels in both parents – especially when they’re separated from their child during the day while they work or go about their regular business at home (or even if they have to leave their house for an extended period).
How does SSC benefit babies?
SSC does wonders for babies’ development in many ways.
Babies who are held skin-to-skin:
- are more likely to be calm and regulated
- have better sleep patterns, sleeping longer and more deeply
- cry less often than their counterparts who aren’t held consistently during the first days of life
- feed more frequently and with greater ease
Skin-to-skin contact helps babies regulate their heart rate, breathing, and body temperature. It helps keep them calm.
Skin-to-skin contact helps babies regulate their heart rate, breathing, and body temperature. It helps keep them calm and reduces stress, which is especially important for newborns who have just left the cozy environment of the womb.
It is also thought that skin-to-skin contact may prevent hypothermia, low blood sugar, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Babies who are held skin-to-skin are known to sleep more deeply and for more extended periods than those who aren’t held. They cry less often because they feel secure in your arms; when awake, they tend to be more alert and responsive when you talk or sing to them.
SSC helps babies breathe better during their first days of life. This can help prevent preemies’ and common problems after birth, such as hypothermia and low blood sugar.
Because it helps regulate your little ones body temperature, skin-to-skin contact can benefit premature infants. It can help prevent hypothermia and low blood sugar. Skin-to-skin contact may also help prevent infections and other medical conditions associated with prematurity, such as:
- Apnea (temporary stopping of breathing)
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Gastrointestinal problems
SSC helps babies sleep more deeply and longer than they would in a crib or warmer, which might reduce the risk of SIDS.
When you’re skin-to-skin with your baby, they are safe and secure. They can get comfortable and fall asleep without worrying about being cold or hungry or if you’ll leave them alone for too long. Your body temperature will keep them warm, so they don’t have to use energy to stay warm. And when your baby is relaxed, it allows their breathing rate to slow down and deepen—a sign of a good sleep cycle!
Babies who receive skin-to-skin contact right after birth cry less and are usually more alert when they are awake.
When a baby is skin-to-skin with their mother, the child generally cries less and is more alert while awake. This means that your baby will:
- Be calmer and easier to soothe when they wake up
- Be more likely to feed on the breast after birth
- Be more alert in general, which helps them develop cognitively
Babies who receive skin-to-skin contact begin breastfeeding sooner and more successfully than those who don’t.
Skin-to-skin contact is a great way to help your baby start breastfeeding. The closeness and warmth of skin-to-skin contact may also:
- Help you get in the correct position for breastfeeding so you can start sooner.
- Help your nipples become more sensitive and prepared for breastfeeding.
- Make it easier for your baby to latch on correctly if they do not yet know how to do so properly.
- Reduce stress levels of both you and your newborn by creating a quiet, calm environment where breastfeeding can happen more easily.
Babies who receive SSC usually gain weight more quickly than other babies because they feed more often and are more relaxed while feeding. This can help preemies catch up to full-term babies in growth faster.
- Babies who receive SSC usually gain weight more quickly than other babies because they feed more often and are more relaxed while feeding. This can help preemies catch up to full-term babies in growth faster.
- The skin-to-skin contact helps your baby regulate their own body temperature, so the baby doesn’t need extra blankets to stay warm during feeds. A baby with too many blankets on might make it harder for them to feed effectively (since they’re not able to move around as much).
Your baby will be right on course for healthy brain development!
Skin-to-skin contact helps babies regulate their heart rate, breathing, temperature, and body movements. It also helps keep them calm and feeling secure. This is especially important for premature or low birth weight babies who may be fragile and easily upset. Skin-to-skin contact can also reduce the risk of hypothermia in premature infants.
Skin-to-skin benefits don’t stop there! It has been shown to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by increasing your baby’s level of serotonin—the hormone that makes your brain happy—which reduces stress levels and boosts their immune system. Finally, research shows that newborns who are skin to skin with their parents get more sleep than those who aren’t!
Your attachment with your child is a special one. Skin-to-skin contact would ensure that you lay the groundwork for a healthy relationship with your child from the get-go!
A secure attachment relationship is a foundation for healthy parent-child interaction. A child with a secure attachment typically feels safe and protected in their parents’ presence, and they can explore their environment while still knowing that they are loved and cared for.
A newborn’s sudden world may seem overwhelming initially. Still, you can help your baby feel more comfortable by creating a sense of safety through skin-to-skin contact. While making skin-to-skin contact with your baby, it is essential to remember that there is no right or wrong way to do this; what matters most is the connection between you and your child!
Your baby’s physical health and growth will be optimized!
Skin-to-skin contact helps optimize your baby’s physical health and growth.
- It helps regulate their heart rate, breathing, and body temperature. This is important because newborns have very weak body systems that need support to grow healthy.
- Skin-to-skin can help keep babies calm and focused when they are upset or scared — like when their diaper is wet, or it’s time for a feeding! These improved moods can be especially helpful for mothers who may be experiencing postpartum anxiety themselves.
- Skin-to-skin contact can also help babies breathe better because it makes the muscles around their lungs stronger, so they don’t collapse as much when breathing in air through their nose, mouth, and throat (instead of just being born with strong ribs). If there are any breathing issues after birth, this will not apply until later in life (such as asthma). The same goes for low blood sugar levels. If anything were wrong, there would need to be an underlying cause before considering skin-to-skin contact as an option since otherwise, it wouldn’t work properly.
It regulates your baby’s stress levels and keeps them emotionally healthy!
- The benefits of skin-to-skin contact are especially pronounced in the earliest hours after birth. When newborns are placed on their mother’s chest, they experience a relaxation response that helps them regulate their temperature, heart rate, and stress levels. It also increases pain tolerance and allows the baby to sleep longer between feedings.
- Babies who receive skin-to-skin contact right after birth cry less and are usually more alert when they are awake. They also begin breastfeeding sooner and more successfully than those who don’t receive this particular kind of maternal attention from the very beginning of life.
So, the next time you come away from your first doctor visit with a long list of things to do, remember that skin-to-skin care is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do for your baby. It doesn’t require any specific equipment or supplies, just some warm clothes and a willingness on both parents’ part to share this special bonding time with their newborns.