Seeing your baby for the first time is an experience you will never forget. Skin-to-skin means your baby is placed belly-down, directly on your chest, right after he/she is born to begin the bonding process. Your provider dries the baby off, puts a hat on the baby, covers him/her with a warm blanket, and gets the baby settled on your chest.
The first hours of snuggling skin-to-skin let you and your baby get to know each other. Newborns crave skin-to-skin contact, but it's sometimes overwhelming for new moms. It's okay to start slowly as you get to know your baby.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a healthy newborn should be placed and stay in direct skin-to-skin contact with his mother immediately after birth and until the first feeding is accomplished. Research has shown that your baby’s senses will immediately begin to react. He can hear and feel your heartbeat and become familiar with the feel of your skin. Skin-to-skin has proven to help regulate your baby’s temperature, blood sugar and heart rate. Studies have also shown that babies are much more alert and cry less during this snuggling time.
Your chest is the best place for your baby to adjust to life in the outside world. Compared with babies who are swaddled or kept in a crib, skin-to-skin babies stay warmer and calmer, cry less, and have better blood sugars.
Keep cuddling skin-to-skin after you leave the hospital--your baby will stay warm and comfortable on your chest, and the benefits for bonding, soothing, and breastfeeding likely continue well after birth. Skin-to-skin can help keep your baby interested in nursing if he/she is sleepy. Dads can snuggle, too!
Snuggling gives you and your baby the best start for breastfeeding. Research has shown that skin-to-skin babies breastfeed better. They also nurse an average of six weeks longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all breastfeeding babies spend time skin-to-skin right after birth. Keeping your baby skin-to-skin in his/her first few weeks makes it easier to know when to feed.
Skin-to-skin cuddling may affect how you relate with your baby. Researchers have watched mothers and infants in the first few days after birth, and they noticed that skin-to-skin moms touch and cuddle their babies more. Even a year later, skin-to-skin moms snuggled more with their babies during a visit to their pediatricians.