Importance of skin-to-skin contact

Importance of skin-to-skin contact

Skin-to-skin contact with your baby is important for developing connections, soothing your baby and allowing them to move freely.

In the few minutes after birth, your newborn baby is stimulated to breathe, the amniotic fluid is dried off so they don’t lose heat, and they are carefully observed during the transition process. At this point, if all is going well, your newborn baby should be placed on your chest, preferably skin-to-skin.

Newborn babies who are placed in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers within the first few minutes of birth cry very rarely during the first hour or two of life. When a newborn baby is placed, skin-to-skin, on their mother’s chest, there is less of a chance for the temperature to drop. Also, when a newborn baby is placed in skin-to-skin contact and their arms and legs are free to move, they will maneuver in their own way towards their mother’s nipple, and start to suck when they are ready. This is a very moving experience for most parents, if they are given this opportunity.

In up to 10% of all deliveries, babies have a bowel movement called meconium prior to delivery. Babies born through this meconium-stained amniotic fluid are at increased risk of having breathing problems if chunks of meconium enter their lungs before or after delivery. Your health-care provider may need to clear your baby’s mouth and nose and ensure normal breathing prior to skin-to-skin time. This process is important to ensure your baby’s safety.

Some hospitals have a policy of tightly wrapping the newborn baby in swaddling cloth before giving them to their mother. Swaddling can help to soothe newborn babies and make them feel safe and secure. However, if you feel strongly about having skin-to-skin contact in the first few minutes after birth, make sure to arrange this with your health-care providers ahead of time.

Article excerpted from and copyrighted by the original author.

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